All have role in ensuring robust healthcare system

People waiting for their turns at a waiting room at Tampines Polyclinic.
People waiting for their turns at a waiting room at Tampines Polyclinic. PHOTO: ST FILE

The findings of an independent review committee suggest that complacency was at the root of the recent hepatitis C outbreak ("Hepatitis C probe points to lapses at SGH"; Wednesday).

It is indeed our privilege to have what is arguably the most advanced medical infrastructure in the region, but that does not absolve all of us from the need for utmost caution.

For healthcare workers, this means that measures to prevent cross-contamination must be strictly followed. No shortcuts must be taken in any circumstance, lest human life be jeopardised, as was the case in the outbreak.

Our healthcare system cannot rest on its laurels. A culture of continual improvement has to be encouraged, where best practices are shared among all healthcare providers and stakeholders, potentially including expertise from other hospitals worldwide which have an outstanding record of risk mitigation.

A firm disciplinary system must be instituted for recalcitrant, severe transgressions.

Patients and visitors also have a part to play: Instead of being passive bystanders, they should report all breaches they witness to the authorities.

I hope that the proposed task force will not be a cloistered institution obscured from the public eye ("New task force to boost infection control in hospitals"; Wednesday, and "Task force to study best practices in disease control"; yesterday).

Instead, the task force should lead the way, by providing easily accessible lines of communication for the public to directly report breaches.

Our healthcare institutions must now pick up the pieces and look ahead. We need to find multi-faceted solutions that prevent and effectively mitigate outbreaks caused by negligence.

Tay Hong Yi

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on December 11, 2015, with the headline 'All have role in ensuring robust healthcare system'. Print Edition | Subscribe