Negligent pharmacist fined for causing patient's death with overdose

A former hospital pharmacist was fined $6,000 on Friday for causing the death of an elderly patient through negligence.

Siah Kah Ying, 30, a Singapore permanent resident, prescribed 5mg of a diabetic drug to Madam Chua Kim Kuan - ten times the amount she was meant to administer - after making an error in her notes.

The 78-year-old developed brain damage caused by very low blood glucose level due to the overdose at Tan Tock Seng Hospital on Sept 22, 2010.

She eventually died from bronchopneumonia and brain damage on Nov 12 that year.

Siah admitted causing her death. A district court heard how Madam Chua, who had a background of Parkinsons disease and diabetes, was admitted to the hospital for an infected spinal wound. Because of her prolonged periods in bed, she developed blood poisoning and was given intravenous antibiotics.

The next day, on Sept 21, she suffered a urinary tract infection which was complicated by bacterial growth in her blood and pneumonia.

Siah filled out a form on Sept 22, making a note of the medication that had been prescribed by Raffles Hospital when it treated her for a broken leg earlier that year.

While doing so, she wrongly noted the dosage of Repaglinide to treat her diabetes. Instead of 0.5mg, she wrote down 5mg.

Dr Violet Hoon relied on the notation and prescribed the medication. Madam Chua was given the first dose at 7.55pm on Sept 23.

About nine hours later, she was found to be drowsy with a low blood sugar count. She was immediately resuscitated and treated.

She remained semi-comatose and subsequently developed low blood pressure which worsened before she passed away on Nov 12 that year.

Siah, who recently became a mother, could have been jailed for up to two years and/or fined for causing death by negligence.

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