441 SGH patients tested negative for hepatitis C

485 out of 678 patients have been screened, with 441 testing negative for hepatitis C. and the remaining 44 results pending.
485 out of 678 patients have been screened, with 441 testing negative for hepatitis C. and the remaining 44 results pending.ST PHOTO: ALICIA CHAN

SINGAPORE - Singapore General Hospital (SGH) said 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 by SGH on Friday (Oct 16), 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.

SGH said it has called, sent message via SMS as well as delivered by courier a letter to the address in its records. The hospital will continue to try to reach them.

Eleven patients have declined screening due to their frail health. The hospital will continue to engage their families, SGH said.

In addition, 30 of the patients the hospital was attempting to contact had died since their discharge.

Most of these patients were terminally ill and were discharged to spend their last days at home or in a palliative care setting, said the hospital.

Many had end-stage renal disease, with some opting for no further intervention, it added.


Professor Fong Kok Yong, chairman of SGH's medical board, said: "The causes of death of these 30 patients were end-stage renal disease, cancer, ischemic heart disease or pneumonia. Based on our review of their medical histories, we have ruled out hepatitis C as a contributing cause."

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.

The Health Ministry has since launched a separate investigation of the matter.

The Independent Review Committee will be investigating how the hepatitis C infections occurred.