The Straits Times
Published on Nov 20, 2012

Father-in-law's death: Handle patients better


AT ABOUT 5am on Oct 26, my husband and I accompanied my father-in-law, who had fallen and hurt his forehead and mouth, to the Singapore General Hospital's accident and emergency department, where he was placed in an observation ward.

We waited until 7am and when no one updated us on his condition, we sought permission to see him.

When we did, his right eye had become swollen. We were told that the staff would be stitching up his forehead wound to stop the bleeding, and admission would be done when a bed became available.

At around 11.50am, he was admitted. Up to then, nothing had been done for him except the placement of a drip and stitching of his forehead wound.

The nurses told us that they had arranged a CT scan for him the next day, as Oct 26 was a public holiday and the relevant staff were not working.

The next day, after the scan was done, the neurologists informed us there were multiple injuries to my father-in-law's skull, and bleeding within.

We were told that he would be in a coma within 24 hours.

Due to his age and sickness, no surgery was suggested.

My father-in-law died on Oct 29.

There is much room for improvement in how patients are handled.

Is it the norm for CT scan departments to be closed on public holidays?

Could my father-in-law's death have been prevented if the scan had been done on the same day, and corrective action taken to stop the bleeding?

Adeline Lim (Madam)