In a media conference on 6 October 2015, Singapore General Hopsital announced that in early June, they discovered an increased number of Hepatitis C infections in their renal ward. As a result, SGH increased checks for patients and found that 22 patients had been infected with the Hepatitis C virus. All 22 patients were stayed in its newly-renovated Ward 67 between April to June 2015.
Among the 22 patients, 8 have died, including 4 who had “multiple co-morbidities and severe sepsis”. The possibility of Hepatitis C being a contributory factor to their deaths have not been ruled out. The remaining 3 deaths were thoroughly evaluated and no links to Hepatitis C was found. The last death is pending review.
The SGH Medical Review Committee’s investigation indicate that the infection might have been spread due to intravenous injectable agents. SGH has since taken immediate precautionary measures. Since the measures kicked in, there were no new cases of Hepatitis C and staff who provide care to renal patients will be screened.
SGH CEO Prof Ang Chong Lye said: “We would like to apologise unreservedly for the grief, pain and anguish this has caused our patients and families…What happens to our patients is always our responsibility. We will spare no effort in reviewing our processes and examining all possible sources of infection to prevent recurrence.”
Hepatitis C is a liver disease that is transmitted by blood-bourne routes, and is not air-borne like SARS. If left untreated, the long-term effect of the virus is cirrhosis, liver failure, or liver cancer.