Singapore hospital says service could be ‘improved’ after patient starved 12 hours

Complaints against a hospital accused of making a patient go hungry 12 hours and wait almost a full day for treatment earlier this month were finally addressed today.

Sengkang General Hospital admitted its communications could have been better after a patient’s wife, identified as Vicky Xiaoshuang, complained that her husband was left waiting in pain for 21 hours and not fed for 12 hours.

“We have investigated the matter and the patient had received appropriate care during his hospital stay with us. However, we acknowledge that communications could be improved,” it wrote.

The June 3 post in Facebook group Complaint Singapore accused the hospital of horrible service and management. Vicky wrote that she sent her husband to the emergency department on June 1 at 10:30pm for a high fever and suspected ligament tear in his shoulder.

Vicky said things were initially “smooth sailing” and staff were “very efficient” after conducting X-ray and blood tests, which came back serious and required him to be warded. But staff said the wards were full and no beds available until around 11am the next morning. They waited in the observation room. 

Her husband, who was not named, was instructed to fast, which the hospital today said was for an undisclosed procedure that required him to not eat at least eight hours. 

However, beds were still not available at 7:30pm. Vicky said her husband was not given pain killers, and that a patient who came in after them was warded before them. The procedure that he fasted 12 hours for was also never booked.

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The hospital today said its emergency department had a “high patient load” on that day but waiting times for those with “life-threatening” and “urgent” conditions were definitely shorter than those with “less acute conditions.”

They confirmed that the patient was first resting on a trolley bed in the emergency department and later transferred to the observation ward, aka a temporary ward. 

“We can understand the frustration with the long wait for a bed and fasting time, and we had already placed the patient on the priority queue for a bed. As the patient chose to leave the hospital, no procedures were done,” the hospital wrote.

Vicky also alleged that a nurse “rudely” told her husband that if they “cannot wait” then they could just leave.

“Dear missy, we are not here waiting to buy food for you to easily say (cant wait just go), we are here in pain waiting for freaking straight 21hrs and yet ppl who reach so much later can go up the ward first and even made my husband fast for [nothing],” she wrote.

The hospital did not address this in its statement today.

She said in an update that her husband went to Tan Tock Seng hospital days later instead and was treated within six hours.

In March, a couple accused the National University Hospital of neglecting a pregnant patient whose unborn baby died. However, after an investigation, the hospital was found not responsible and the accuser backtracked and was discredited.

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