RELATIVE OF HEP C PATIENT INFECTED AT SGH REVEALS HER SIDE OF STORY

On Tuesday (6th Oct), SGH admitted that there was an outbreak of hepatitis C and that the cause may be linked to a lapse in the use of multi-dose medication vials. The outbreak has affected 22 patients since 17th April, with the 22nd case being detected on 18th September. At the moment, 4 out of 8 deaths related are believed to be linked to this incident.

A relative of one of the patients who was infected with hepatitis C in the Singapore General Hospital (SGH) has spoken up about her family’s ordeal. The patient is one of 2 affected persons still warded at SGH.

The patient, who is in her late 50s, has been suffering from renal failure for the past 15 years.

This year, the patient went to the hospital in June after she felt unwell. After numerous screening tests, she was diagnosed with hepatitis C and warded at SGH in July.

Unfortunately, the patient’s condition has gotten worse. She had a loss of appetite, bed sores, nausea, and was admitted to the Intensive Care Unit numerous times.

The patient’s main caregivers are her husband and her domestic worker. The family had contemplated stopping the treatment because of the high costs. Each dose of medication can cost up to S$3,000 and the family had incurred about S$80,000 to S$90,000 in hospital bills over the last two months.

“There isn’t much improvement, we are neither here nor there, and right now, the patient herself is quite depressed … the whole treatment process has really dragged her down. Most of the time, she is telling us to just let her go, don’t want all this suffering,” said the relative.

Although SGH has informed the patient’s spouse that they will be footing the medical bill, medical costs alone are not the family’s only problems. “I think they have tried their best … We do appreciate the goodwill from the hospital, that they realise this mistake and are willing to bear the costs even before investigations have concluded. This is a relief for the family.

The relative revealed that the patient had already received a renal transplant previously, and that this setback was a huge blow to her. “Renal patients have been through a lot in their lives. To them, these organs are very precious … but right now another of her organs, her liver, has failed.”

“Because of this possible lapse, the patient has to suffer, be it the treatment process, the side effects of antibiotics. The patient really has low willpower to live on. Even if the treatment goes well, what will be the home care needed for the patient. I think that is more worrying.”

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