Hepatitis: SGH offers emotional support for patients, families

Patients and families affected by the hepatitis C outbreak at the Singapore General Hospital are being given emotional support, said the hospital.
Patients and families affected by the hepatitis C outbreak at the Singapore General Hospital are being given emotional support, said the hospital.ST PHOTO: ALICIA CHAN

Patients and families affected by the hepatitis C outbreak at the Singapore General Hospital (SGH) are being given emotional support, said the hospital.

SGH said that doctors and medical social workers have already spoken to them, or will be contacting them, to address their concerns, and to offer psychological and emotional support.

Last week, SGH revealed that 22 kidney patients had con-tracted hepatitis C infections while receiving treatment in the hospital.

Although the hospital first suspected that cases were related as early as mid-May, tests confirmed this only later.

Eight of the patients have died, and five deaths could be linked to the infection.

In a statement, SGH said that it has been in touch with the 14 affected patients and their families, as well as the next of kin of the eight patients who died.

Eight family conferences have been held, with nine more scheduled for the next few days, while another five are being arranged, it said.

A spokesman said: "We understand that they are anxious about their condition and treatment.

"Many of them have been our patients for a long time and are close to our care team."

The hospital has also contacted 646 out of 678 patients for screening. These patients were admitted to wards 64A and 67 from January to June.

Of the 585 who have confirmed their appointments for screening, 244 patients have been screened and will be notified of their results this week.

A total of 223 out of 284 staff have also been screened, added SGH.

The Ministry of Health (MOH) was informed about the incident in late August, and Health Minister Gan Kim Yong was briefed on Sept 25.

Questions have been raised as to why SGH took so long to inform the public about the hepatitis C cluster, prompting the hospital to give a detailed timeline of the events last Wednesday.

The Health Ministry has since launched a separate investigation of the matter.

The Independent Review Committee will be investi-gating how the hepatitis C in-fections occurred, and look into the timeline of events provided by the hospital to see whether there were any gaps in the process.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 12, 2015, with the headline 'Hepatitis: SGH offers emotional support for patients, families'. Print Edition | Subscribe