The High Court on Tuesday (19 January) ordered Changi General Hospital (CGH) to pay S$326,620 in damages to the estate of a woman for its negligence that resulted in its delay in diagnosing her with lung cancer.
The sum was awarded to the late Noor Azlin Abdul Rahman’s estate as general damages encompassing claims for pain, suffering, loss of amenity and dependency.
Justice Belinda Ang also ordered CGH to pay Ms Azlin’s estate an additional S$22,620 for special damages, including medical expenses.
CGH to date has paid an interim sum of S$200,000.
Ms Azlin’s estate had sought about S$1 million in damages for Ms Azlin’s pain, suffering and loss of amenity, which Justice Ang said “is manifestly excessive” and “completely at odds with the precedents”.
CGH asked for S$10,000, which the judge said was also “out of line with the precedents”, noting also that CGH did not appeal against the decision to award S$200,000 in interim payment.
Ms Azlin passed away in April 2019 at the age of 39 – months after winning the legal battle against CGH in February that year after making an appeal. She was battling Stage Four lung cancer.
Her brother, Azmi bin Abdul Rahman, the executor of her estate, continued her fight in court.
Ms Azlin was first diagnosed with lung cancer in February 2012, following which she went through surgery to remove part of her right lung in March 2012.
She later found out that she was suffering from Stage Two lung cancer. She then underwent chemotherapy.
Unfortunately, in August 2014, Ms Azlin suffered a relapse and her biopsy confirmed that her cancer had progressed to Stage Four.
The following year, in January 2015, she sued CGH and three doctors for the delay in diagnosing her illness.
However, the High Court dismissed Ms Azlin’s case in February 2018.
She went on appeal against the decision, following which the Court of Appeal found CGH guilty of negligence for not having a system for proper follow-up of radiological results and patient management.
The apex court stated that Ms Azlin had Stage I lung cancer in July 2011 and that if the negligence did not happen from the hospital’s side, she would have received a proper diagnosis and be treated accordingly.
Although radiological reports prepared in April 2010 and July 2011 recommended a follow-up, none was conducted on Ms Azlin.
The case was transferred back to the High Court for assessment of damages.
The Court of Appeal also ordered parties to consider looking into a settlement on the quantum to help Ms Azlin get closure and allow her to concentrate on recovering from her disease.
Unfortunately, Ms Azlin lost her life to the disease on 1 April, just five weeks after the court’s verdict.
Netizens slam hospital for its delay in diagnosing Ms Azlin
Netizens expressed their anger towards CGH for its delay in diagnosing Ms Azlin.
Commenting on the Facebook post of CNA on the matter, they said that no amount of money could bring back the victim.
Several online users shared their personal experience with the hospital, with some of them alleging that they’ve lost their loved ones due to the poor services and care at CGH.
“Cannot Go Home (CGH) faithful to the reputation of being lousy (sic) hospital,” said one user.
One user slammed CGH for earlier saying that there’s no guarantee that Ms Azlin would have been completely cured of the disease and lived a normal life even if she had received treatment earlier.
“It is very unbecoming and insensitive of a hospital to spout such statements. Sounds like they don’t really care about the patient nor her suffering,” the user said.
A bunch of online users pointed out that the amount that the High Court had ordered the hospital to pay to late Ms Azlin’s estate is “too low”.
They said that the compensation is incomparable to the pain and suffering that it had caused her and her family.
Others criticised CGH’s move to ask for a sum of only S$10,000 for damages, saying that such an amount “is a reflection of their attitudes toward their patients”.
Some commenters urged the names of the doctors who handled Ms Azlin’s to be revealed to the public.