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Online users not buying explanation given by CGH following a complaint raised by a disappointed granddaughter

Changi General Hospital (CGH) has responded to a case raised by a granddaughter who said that her grandmother had to endure horrible care and treatment in the hospital, during her final days.

On Monday (13 May), Isabella Alexandria Lim took to her Facebook to pen down the terrible experience that she and her family went through while her grandmother was admitted at CGH after a fall.

In all started on 19 February, and during her stay, some of the ill-treatment that the senior citizen had to go through include developing “severe” bedsore, not given heated blanket after a week, and did not have her diapers change until it was requested.

Ms Lim added her grandmother’s health went down the hill quickly after she was warded at CGH, and was said to have only a few days or a week to live.

If that is not all, her family were also badly treated by the staffs who were “unprofessional, unsympathetic and insensitive”. Some of their encounters include not being well-informed of the patient’s situation, “unprofessional and rude” on-call doctor who made no effort to explain things to the family and refusal to run another round of blood tests.

Unable to bear the poor service and insensitive remarks by the staffs at the hospital, the family then moved the senior woman to National University Hospital (NUH), where she received a much better end-of-life care, before passing away on 5 May (Sunday).

At the time of writing, Ms Lim’s post had received 4,400 shares.

Following that, Associate Professor Lim Si Ching, Senior Consultant from the Department of Geriatric Medicine of CGH had issued a statement regarding this incident.

In the statement, Professor Lim started off by saying that the hospital is “saddened by the news of the patient’s passing and empathise with the family’s anguish”.

After conducting a thorough review of the case, she insisted that “appropriate medical care” was provided to Ms Lim’s grandmother during her stay in the hospital.

However, she admits there were “communication gaps which could have prevented” and the hospital “could have done better in engaging the different family members and helping them understand the diagnostic and therapeutic interventions”.

Explaining the patient’s situation, Professor Lim said that she did not respond to antibiotics treatment due to her condition and old age, and the team had explained to the family her treatment options and risks. As such, the family “agreed on conservative treatment that focused on alleviating symptoms that caused discomfort to the patient”.

Highlighting CGH’s preventive measures towards Ms Lim’s grandmother, Professor Lim said that upon finding that she had the risk of developing pressure soles, her team closely monitored “her skin condition, placing her on a pressure-relieving air mattress and turning her at regular intervals to prevent pressure sores from developing while respecting the request from family members to minimise disrupting her rest”.

“We are sorry for the anxiety caused to the family. Owing to patient confidentiality, it would be more appropriate for us to meet with the family to address their concerns, and provide full details of the case. We will do our best to learn from this incident and improve our care delivery processes,” she said.

Here’s the full statement by CGH:

We are aware of a post shared on social media by a late patient’s granddaughter. We are saddened by the news of the patient’s passing and empathise with the family’s anguish.

The patient was admitted to CGH on 7 April 2019 and transferred to NUH on 3 May 2019. Following the family’s feedback, CGH Medical Board conducted a thorough review of the case. Appropriate medical care was given during her stay at CGH. However, there were communication gaps which could have been prevented. While the care team provided regular updates to the family member designated as main caregiver, we could have done better in engaging the different family members and helping them understand the diagnostic and therapeutic interventions by the care team.

During the patient’s stay at CGH, she did not respond to the antibiotics treatment due to pre-existing conditions and advanced age, and required invasive procedures for further investigation. The care team explained the treatment options and risks involved to the family and they agreed on conservative treatment that focused on alleviating symptoms that caused discomfort to the patient. The patient was assessed to be at risk of developing pressure sores. We promptly took preventive measures which included close monitoring of her skin condition, placing her on a pressure-relieving air mattress and turning her at regular intervals to prevent pressure sores from developing while respecting the request from family members to minimise disrupting her rest.

During a subsequent family meeting, the family asked about the process to seek a second opinion at another hospital. The high risks associated with a hospital transfer due to the patient’s condition, was highlighted. The family decided to proceed with the transfer and the care team facilitated with a doctor’s letter to NUH Emergency Department to enable continuity of care.

We are sorry for the anxiety caused to the family. Owing to patient confidentiality, it would be more appropriate for us to meet with the family to address their concerns, and provide full details of the case. We will do our best to learn from this incident and improve our care delivery processes.

After reading this statement, many netizens were displeased with the explanation given by the hospital. Stating their thoughts on TODAY’s and Mothership‘s Facebook pages, they said that CGH shouldn’t just blame everything on miscommunication and look at improving the quality of service that they give to their patients. Besides that, based on the statement released, some even question what if  “appropriate care” just means keeping the patient alive and show less concern. They also highlighted the lack of sincerity in the statement and said it’s merely a template reply.

 

Others pointed out that the statement did not address a lot of other issues that were brought up by Ms Lim like the attitude of the on-call doctor and nurses, as well as the unnecessary rude comments uttered by them. In addition, the statement also did not also reveal who is responsible and what steps had been taken to prevent this. Weng Hon Chan said that no one is taking responsibility, urging the head of CGH to do so.

A large number of them are calling the Ministry of Health (MOH) to step in and look into this matter to prevent similar cases from reoccurring.

On the other hand, many online users also commented on CGH’s Facebook page stating their personal experience while seeking treatment at the hospital. They highlighted the same issues raised by Ms Lim like rude staffs and overall poor services. To make things worse, Yang Mu Ming said that he experienced the same thing 10 years ago when his mother, grandmother and father were admitted, and sadly he said that the situation still remain the same even after a decade.

Netizen named Angela Teo wrote that just like Ms Lim’s grandmother, her grandmother’s health also quickly deteriorated after being warded at CGH for flu and cough. She added that she believed that her grandmother’s health went from bad to worse due to the bad care given to her. As such, she hopes that “CGH retrains their nurses and staff to provide in compassion and ensure proper care is duly given as bills up to 5 figures are paid for every patient’s stay”.