Medical group apologises for distress caused to family of toddler who was overdosed with cough syrup

Belinda Lum, 33, and her 14-month-old son were seen by a doctor at YSL Bedok Clinic and Surgery, and given a bottle of Fedac syrup, with instructions to take 10ml of the medicine three times a day.
Belinda Lum, 33, and her 14-month-old son were seen by a doctor at YSL Bedok Clinic and Surgery, and given a bottle of Fedac syrup, with instructions to take 10ml of the medicine three times a day. PHOTO: BELINDA LUM/ GIVE.ASIA

SINGAPORE - A clinic in Bedok has offered an apology and compensation of his medical bills to the family of a 14-month-old boy who was allegedly dispensed the adult dose of a cough medicine by mistake.

The toddler fell into a deep sleep that lasted a total of 44 hours, said his mother, Ms Belinda Lum, after she followed the instructions on the bottle of Fedac to give him 10 ml of the syrup three times a day.

Fedac is a medicine that contains an antihistamine and decongestant.

Qualitas Medical Group, the parent company of YSL Bedok Clinic and Surgery, said on Monday (Nov 27) it was investigating the matter.

Ms Lum, 33, who is self-employed, had taken her son to the clinic last Wednesday.

Suspecting he had overdosed when he remained in deep sleep hours later, she rushed him to Gleneagles Hospital early Thursday morning, where he was given an antidote, she said.

The medical group issued an apology on Wednesday and said: "Qualitas has out of goodwill offered to reimburse the child's parents for all medical bills incurred as a result of this unfortunate incident."

It also said it had assembled a team to ensure that its safety procedures are reviewed and enforced.

Ms Lum said the medical bill was $2,000.

In an earlier interview with The Straits Times, she said she spoke to the doctor and clinic manager after the incident, and that it was a clinic assistant who had made the mistake.

Qualitas, which has nine clinics in Singapore, also invited the child for further examination at their paediatrics unit but Ms Lum said she would not be sending her son back to them. "They already did this once, how can I trust them now?"

 

A Ministry of Health (MOH) spokesman said the ministry was aware of the incident.

"MOH takes a serious view of such matters and is investigating the clinic in question and its licensee," its spokesman told Channel News Asia.

Ms Lum first shared her story on fund-raising platform Give.asia. She said it was to encourage people to share her story on Facebook to raise awareness of the incident. She donated $1 to charity for each share.

According to Dr Yik Keng Yeong, who runs Tan and Yik Clinic and Surgery in Bishan, a child as young as Ms Lum's son should be given only 1.5ml to 2.5ml of Fedac. "Hopefully the patient will not develop long-term complications," he added.

Fedac is usually prescribed for symptomatic relief of colds and coughs, or allergies.

Ms Lum told The Straits Times that her son only has a third of his strength back and has lost weight since the incident took place.

She said: "The damage they have done to my son cannot be reversed by any compensation."


Correction note: This story was updated to clarify that the boy was dispensed, not prescribed, the wrong dosage.