4 MOH and 12 SGH staff disciplined for role in hepatitis C outbreak in hospital

Four senior MOH officials and 12 SGH staff in leadership positions were disciplined for their role in the Hepatitis C outbreak last year. PHOTO: ST FILE

SINGAPORE - Four senior officials from the Ministry of Health (MOH) and 12 people holding leadership positions at the Singapore General Hospital (SGH) have been disciplined for their role in the hepatitis C outbreak at the hospital that affected 25 patients and were linked to eight deaths.

In separate statements issued on Thursday (March 17), MOH and SGH revealed the actions taken against those who were deemed to have contributed to the outbreak.

The disciplinary action included warnings, stern warnings and financial penalties.

Last December, an independent review committee found the outbreak of the viral disease in SGH's renal wards 64A and 67 was "due to multiple overlapping factors, including gaps in infection control procedures and protocols".

It also highlighted gaps in the surveillance system at the time,that resulted in the unusual outbreak to slip through the cracks.

Two teams - one led by the Public Service Division's permanent secretary, Ms Yong Ying-I, and the other by SingHealth chaired by board director, Ms Euleen Goh - were tasked to see if anyone failed in their responsibilities.

One point that stood out when the outbreak was announced in October last year, was the months it took for the hospital and ministry to realise the seriousness of the spread of the virus in the wards and to raise the alarm.

Even after the hospital realised that the virus was spreading among its renal patients - many of whom had weak immune systems - and had cleaned the wards up, an independent team sent by MOH still found blood spots and the hepatitis C virus in the wards.

Join ST's Telegram channel and get the latest breaking news delivered to you.