SGH hepatitis C outbreak: Health ministry to invite international experts to advise review committee

The committee has been at work looking at how the SGH hepatits C outbreak happened, and how such incidents can be avoided in future.
The committee has been at work looking at how the SGH hepatits C outbreak happened, and how such incidents can be avoided in future.ST PHOTO: ALICIA CHAN

SINGAPORE - The Ministry of Health (MOH) will invite international experts to advise an Independent Review Committee that is investigating the outbreak of hepatitis C cases in the Singapore General Hospital (SGH).

This will ensure that the review will be a thorough one, Health Minister Gan Kim Yong said on the sidelines of a SingHealth President's Challenge 2015 event on Saturday.

The committee has been at work for two weeks looking at how the outbreak happened, and how such incidents can be avoided in future, Mr Gan added. "The Committee will also look at the processes in both SGH and the Ministry of Health to identify whether there are any gaps and areas that we can improve upon so that we can strengthen our system."

Asked if contingency plans will be put in place to prevent similar occurrences, Mr Gan said that a key objective of the committee is to identify areas for improvement.

He added that the ministry has told the Committee that SGH and MOH will adopt an "open attitude" and extend full support for their work.

 

SGH said on Friday that it has not uncovered any new cases of hepatitis C after running a series of tests on patients and staff feared to have been exposed to the blood-borne virus.

In a statement, it said that 485 out of 678 patients have been screened. These patients were admitted to wards 64A and 67 from January to June.

Of those who have been screened, 441 have tested negative. The remaining 44 results are pending.

An additional 144 patients have made appointments for screening. The hospital is still trying to reach eight patients.

Also, 284 out of 319 staff have been screened, SGH said. The results of 279 of them are ready, and they have all tested negative, too.

Of the remaining 35 staff who have not been screened, some are currently on overseas leave and will be screened upon their return to Singapore.

Last week, SGH revealed that 22 kidney patients had contracted hepatitis C infections while receiving treatment in the hospital. Eight of the patients have died and five of the deaths could be linked to the infection.