My brother in law is not getting the treatment he needs at Mount Elizabeth Novena. The nurses have nearly administered him 4x his recommended prescription FIVE TIMES in the span of 24 hours because they had not been keeping track of when they were giving him his medication. It could kill him.

Can anyone help? (long post with tl;dr ahead)

My brother in law is an end-stage kidney disease patient and amputee who has a history of diabetes and hypertension. We have been getting treatment with excellent doctors at Mount Elizabeth Novena. He has been admitted on and off for the last six months (Ward 11, 12, ICU, dialysis centres) for various complications stemming from his condition. Up until this week, we haven’t had any issue with the service.

From March 23, he had been admitted again due to yet another set of complications (infection, gangrene from last surgery, as well as relentless hallucinations and muddied sense of reality). The doctors and my family collectively chose to get him admitted because he was a danger to himself in his state (he’d forget that he can’t walk and fall off the bed, leading to more wounds that won’t heal) and he’d be under constant care in the hospital.

The doctors suspect that the hallucinations may be in part due to a reaction to the dozens of medications he’s been taking, so we are in the process of weaning him off his medications to see which one could be causing the problem.

After scaling back on his medications last week, he began to get better. Relieved, we thought that he would get discharged within a few days. However, since Wednesday, he’s been sleeping all day and not behaving like himself – again.

He’s in dire straits due to the many health battles he’s fighting at the moment, so it’s critical he gets the care he needs as the smallest thing could be the difference between life and death right now. Therefore we thought it’s best to keep him in the hospital. Again, I must stress, it’s because he’s under constant medical care from professionals.

On Saturday, after my brother in law’s nighttime dose of meds, he was getting ready to turn in for the night, when a nurse had walked in saying that he needed to take his medication. I was the only one with him for the evening because his wife (my sister) had gone home to tuck her child into bed. Naturally, I’m not going to question a nurse or a licensed medical professional when they say medication needs to be administered. I happened to text my sister and say that we’re getting ready to take our final dose of pills before sleeping. She texted back saying that he already took his medication in front of her and that he shouldn’t be taking any more, unless the doctor has changed his prescription in the last day. I mentioned this to the nurse, and she assured me that there was no change in his prescription, and that there were simply no records of him taking the meds, so he still needed to take his night meds.

I don’t know what prompted us to ask her to double check with the other nurses, but we did. She had called all the nurses in the ward on the previous shift before we discovered that one of the nurses had “forgotten” to log the medications they gave him, and they were ready to give him another dose because of that mistake. Bear in mind that these are heavily controlled sleeping pills, pain killers, renal meds , etc. She was sorry she “forgot to log it,” but within 15 minutes of this incident happening, another nurse nearly gave him Tramadol twice. For the same reason.

The nurses were naturally very apologetic and assured us that this wouldn’t happen again. We asked to make a note of this for future reference. We didn’t think to escalate it because we didn’t want to get anyone in trouble since we thought this all boiled down to human error. Luckily we were there to stop it before something serious happened.

Tonight, Sunday night, a different set of nurses were on duty. His evening pills came in, and my sister (brother in law’s wife) saw that there was a whole extra pill in the mix. She asked what it was, and the nurse dismissed her and said: “oh it’s his blood pressure medication.” My sister pointed out that his BP medication was already in the pile of meds and that this was a different tablet. The nurse examined the pill again carefully and realised it was his sleeping pill. Now, for the bulk of the hospital visit, my sister has only seen him take half a sleeping pill at night. Livid at potentially ANOTHER mistake with the medications, she complained to the head nurse, who again dismissed her complaints. She asked the nurses to calculate the dosage again. Guess what? It turns out he was supposed to take a quarter of a pill. Not half, like all the other nights, not a whole pill either like tonight. Which means they’d given him 4 times his prescribed dosage of sleeping pills.

We’ve only begun to pay attention to what the nurses are giving him in the last few days because we trust that they are operating according to the strictest code of medical conduct. Their miscalculations and overdosing of my brother in law, however, has been consistent ever since we started paying attention. This is no longer a case of human error, this is a case of gross negligence. We don’t even know if this has happened in the past because we only just started paying attention, and something needs to be done.

We’ve complained to the head nurses; they said that this is a “learning curve” for all the staff. My brother in law is not a medical lab rat who can afford to have a mistake like this happen in his condition, neither is any other patient in the hospital. We’ve also complained to the management and have asked them to address this, but we haven’t heard a peep from the hospital management yet. I don’t know how we can escalate this to the ministry or if we are within our rights to take legal action.

Naturally, we aren’t medically trained, so when a nurse says that the patient needs to take his medication, we trust that they are doing the right thing according to doctor’s orders and their better judgement (you know, Hippocratic oath and all that). I’ve lost all faith in their caretaking, and I have no idea what to do.

A.S.S. Contributor

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