Fifth death linked to Hepatitis C outbreak at SGH

A medical review committee chaired by an external senior hepatologist has found that a hepatitis C infection could not be ruled out as a contributing factor to the death of a fifth patient following a viral outbreak of hepatitis C at the Singapore General Hospital, local media reported on Monday.

The hospital had revealed the viral outbreak in its renal wards earlier this month, saying that four of the eight deaths out of the 22 affected patients had been linked to the viral infection. A fifth death had been under investigation then, and may now also be linked to the hepatitis C infection.

“The committee concluded that the patient passed away from end-stage renal disease and pneumonia. While the death was not caused directly by hepatitis C virus, the committee could not rule out the possibility that hepatitis C virus infection could have been a contributing factor,” TODAYonline reported SGH Medical Board chairman Professor Fong Kok Yong saying.

Minister for Health Gan Kim Yong said on Saturday that international experts will be invited to advise the Independent Review Committee investigating the outbreak, so as to ensure that the review is thoroughly done.

“The Committee will also look at the processes in both SGH and the Ministry of Health to identify whether there are any gaps and areas that we can improve upon so that we can strengthen our system,” Mr Gan told The Straits Times.

The hospital had previously contacted almost 1,000 people for hepatitis C screenings. 484 patients and 294 hospital employees have tested negative. The test results for 88 other cases are still pending. More tests will be done as the hospital schedules appointments for more patients, as well as for hospital staff currently on overseas leave.