Infected woman’s relative spoke about the family’s struggles

The hepatitis C virus outbreak in Singapore General Hospital (SGH) has led to 22 infected patients and four deaths.

Since then, lawyers, doctors, and ministers have been weighed in on the issue. However, the affected patients’ side of the story went unheard.

Until a relative of an infected patient spoke up in an exclusive phone interview with TODAY.

The patient

The patient is in her late 50s, and is one of two infected patients still warded at SGH.

Over the past 15 years, said patient has been suffering from renal failure. The patient has undergone one renal transplant “several years ago”, but eventually reverted to dialysis as a result of the side effects. Her main caretakers are her husband and domestic worker.

In June, she went to the hospital after feeling unwell.

The trouble starts

Initial screenings revealed no symptoms of the hepatitis C virus. But in July, she was warded at SGH after being confirmed to have hepatitis C – a diagnosis that only came after multiple tests.

Exorbitant hospital bills incurred

The patient’s condition has worsened. She was afflicted with bed sores, nausea, a loss of appetite, and had to be admitted to the Intensive Care Unit on several occasions.

In fact, the family had considered stopping treatment due to the hefty bills. A dose of medication can cost up to $3,000. Over the last two months, the family had already run up $80,000 to $90,000 in hospital bills.

Patient wants to let go

According to the patient’s relative, the patient’s condition has not improved and she has lost her fighting spirit.

There isn’t much improvement, we are neither here nor there, and right now, the patient herself is quite depressed … the whole treatment process has really dragged her down. Most of the time, she is telling us to just let her go, don’t want all this suffering.

Because of this possible lapse, the patient has to suffer, be it the treatment process, the side effects of antibiotics. The patient really has low willpower to live on. Even if the treatment goes well, what will be the home care needed for the patient. I think that is more worrying.

On SGH’s part

SGH has informed the patient’s husband that they will be paying for the medical expenses, which came as a relief for the family.

I think they have tried their best… We do appreciate the goodwill from the hospital, that they realise this mistake and are willing to bear the costs even before investigations have concluded. This is a relief for the family.

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With reference to TODAY