Family seek a closure to death of family member who was left unconscious alone in the hospital for 36 hours

Sam Neo, a 52-year-old Singaporean male passed away on 15 May 2016 in Khoo Teck Phuat Hospital (KTPH) and was left in the mortuary for 16 days until his family found out about his death and put him to rest in peace.

On 12 May 2016, Sam was said to be found lying unconscious on a void deck, two blocks away from where he stayed. A kind-hearted passer-by called Singapore Civil Defence at 995 and he was conveyed to KTPH by an ambulance. He was then attended by the Accident and Emergency of KTPH at around 7.16 pm. He was found to be intoxicated and had claimed that he drank rice wine. He was reported to have some abrasions on his hand.

Three hours later, at around 10.23pm, he was certified fit for discharged by the doctor that attended to him.

However, an hour later, he was found lying down at a traffic junction outside Orchid Country Club (OCC). The security guard of OCC reported to the police at 999 at around 11.25pm. He was again conveyed to KTPH on the same night at around 12.20 am by another ambulance.

Sadly, Sam did not survived this time.

CT scan found that he had midline skull fracture and multiple bleeding in his brain. Sam spent about 36 hours in KTPH on his second admission until he passed away on 15 May 2016 at 12.50pm.

Sam passed away without any Next-of-Kin (NOK) by his side. He leaves behind a 24-year-old son, 19-year-old daughter, four brothers, and a mother.

KTPH did conduct some information search on Sam when he was in critical condition.

They found out that Sam was living with his mother and social service staff from KTPH went to the flat in hope of locating his mother to inform her about what happened.

Unfortunately, his mother was staying at one of his brother at that moment because she was not feeling well and needed care.

KTPH then reported to the Singapore Police Force (SPF) to ask for assistance in locating Sam’s NOK after failing to locate his mother. Investigation Officers (IO) went to Sam’s flat the next day and left a note to his neighbour for his mother to contact them immediately.

Notice that was pinned on door of Sam’s flat

Two weeks later, on Sunday (29 May 2016), his mother was feeling better and decided to go back to the flat. As she needed a broom to sweep the floor, she went to her neighbor to borrow it from neighbor. That was when the neighbor passed her the note from SPF and KTPH.

As she is illiterate, she called one of her son sons to come to her place. His brother rushed down to see the note then went straight to the stated police station at around noon to find out what happened.

The IO then informed them that Sam had passed away 2 weeks ago and made appointment to collect Sam’s body 2 days later on Tuesday (31 May 2016).

They were advised by the IO that the paper work can only be done in the morning and they needed to work on it on Monday morning so they can collect it on Tuesday.

They were devastated that the body has been lying in the mortuary for the last 14 days and yet they had to wait another two more days before they can let him rest in peace.

On the night of 30 May, a day before they were due to collect Sam’s body from the mortuary, a police inspector came to his brother place to pay them a visit and was told that, by law, the Police had 21 days to contact NOK of any deceased before he/she will be stated cremated. Is this true?

On 31 May on 10am, the family gathered at the mortuary with the undertaker as the family had to check on the body before they can decide it is actually Sam and he can be embalmed for the funeral.

Sam’s belonging was handed to them by the Investigating Officer assigned to the case. As anyone would, they went through Sam’s wallet. And to their surprise, there was a contact list with 12 numbers in it. Sam did not have a handphone. A record report from KTPH stated clearly what were the items of his wallet except the contact list.

It would seem that the contact list in his wallet was missed by all.

Sam’s personal belonging on him when he was found by police

The family was enraged upon discovering the contact list. They asked whether they can trust that KTPH had done the best to give Sam a chance to live if all the staffs could not even see the contact list in his wallet.

Sam’s family questioned what are the IOs doing if they are the ones that have the authority to go through a deceased belongings but failed to find the most important contact list with all the NOK contact in it.

Internal Affairs Office (IAO) from SPF after its investigation into the complaint by the family, wrote that the officers concerned had breached certain investigation protocols with respect to the tracing of the next-of-kin expeditiously into the death case involving Sam. It stated that appropriate disciplinary action will be taken against the officers concerned.

However, the family will not be informed what punishment will be served to the IOs involved.

In a second letter, IAO states that there is no laws relating to the timeline for SPF to trace the NOK of a deceased person and noted that it is unable to reveal specific details of its investigation because of its confidentiality.

A date for the Coroner inquiry into the final cause of Sam’s has been set on 28 December, 9.30AM, State Court 22.

Sam’s brother, Dane confessed that Sam has been an alcoholic but pointed out that no one deserves to die alone without any NOK by his side and much worse left in the mortuary for another 16 days.

He further noted that his mother has been crying herself to sleep, blaming herself for not going home earlier to discover what happened to her son.

They are just seeking a closure for their family, which is over seven months since Sam’s death.

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