SGH to screen 350 more patients for hepatitis C

Singapore General Hospital.
Singapore General Hospital.PHOTO: ST FILE

An independent committee looking into a hepatitis C outbreak at Singapore General Hospital (SGH) has recommended that more people be screened for the virus.

This is to verify that the precautionary measures put in place by the hospital have been effective, it said in a statement yesterday.

The review committee said all those admitted to wards 64A and 67 between July and last month should be screened, in addition to the patients recalled by the hospital who had stayed in these wards between January and June.

The announcement means that an additional 350 people will have to undergo screening.

"It has been a very busy few weeks as the team went about its work to review processes, identify gaps in infection control, and analyse and interpret findings," said infectious disease expert, Professor Leo Yee Sin, who chairs the committee.

"The investigations are proceeding smoothly. We have had full access to information and resources requested by the committee."

On Oct 6, SGH announced that 22 kidney patients had contracted hepatitis C while receiving treatment in wards 64A and 67.

Eight patients died, and five of the deaths may be linked to the viral infection.

The independent review committee has met 10 times since it was convened. Last week, two international experts were invited to the group to provide advice on the analyses, interpretation and reporting of the findings.

They have since returned to the United States, but will continue to provide input via e-mails, phone calls and video conferences, the committee said.

In a separate statement, SGH said it would start contacting all patients admitted to the affected wards between July and September for screening.

To date, it has screened 601 patients, of whom 594 tested negative. Three tested positive, while the results of four are pending.

Also, 311 staff have been screened. All but one have tested negative. The last result is still pending.

Patients who are not sure if they may be affected can call 6321-3356, leave a message via SMS to 8799-2736, or e-mail check@sgh.com.sg. They should provide their name and NRIC number.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 29, 2015, with the headline 'SGH to screen 350 more patients for hepatitis C'. Print Edition | Subscribe