Does a woman mistakenly recorded as HIV positive by SingHealth doctor have right to compensation?

Photo by Jarun Ontakrai/

It is unfortunate that a polyclinic doctor has accidentally ticked that a woman was HIV positive in her medical report when she was not. This mistake has no doubt caused the woman and her family much worry and grief. I am glad that the mistake was caught by the woman’s husband before further harm such as an unnecessary abortion or a divorce occurred.

While I understand that human error is unavoidable, I wonder what the current procedures for the filling in of these forms are? Are they double-checked for errors? If the woman’s husband had not called SingHealth up to clarify, would the mistake have been discovered by SingHealth? How far would it have gone on?

Secondly, while I am heartened that SingHealth has apologised and pledged to strengthen their processes, can they elaborate on how they have strengthened their current processes? As SingHealth is run with public money and many Singaporeans utilise its services, there needs to be more information with regards to how further mistakes can be prevented. If the woman’s husband had not called SingHealth to clarify, I shudder to think what further harm this mistake would have led to.

Thirdly, what compensation has been offered to the victim and her family? While SingHealth has issued an apology; it cannot undo the trauma that the unfortunate family would have been put through. Has there been talk of a compensation plan? An apology is a good start but without a concerted effort to ensure that the woman is compensated as far as possible, an apology in itself does not really help.

People trust their doctors quite literally with their lives. So when a doctor messes up, however unintentionally, the patient has to have some kind of redress. Given that the SingHealth is government run, there should perhaps be some guidelines as to how to make a claim against SingHealth when something goes wrong?

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