Changi General Hospital (CGH) has made an interim payout of S$200,000 to the estate of late cancer victim Noor Azlin Abdul Rahman for medical negligence, six months after the 39-year-old passed away.
Less than two months before she died, the Court of Appeals found CGH guilty of negligence in a case where a delayed diagnosis caused the cancer of Ms Azlin, a terminal stage cancer patient, to spread.
Ms Azlin first visited CGH over an “opacity” in her lungs nearly 12 years ago. The patient subsequently visited the hospital’s Emergency department numerous times, in 2007, 2010 and 2011. The doctors at CGH first detected a nodule in Ms Azlin’s right lung but found that the nodule was benign between 2007 and 2011. In 2010 and 2011, Ms Azlin underwent two X-rays at the hospital but she was not informed of the results of the X-rays.
Ms Azlin was then diagnosed with lung cancer after she underwent a biopsy on 16 Feb 2012. Despite radiation therapy, Ms Azlin’s Stage IV cancer progressed to her brain. Devastated, Ms Azlin took CGH to court for medical negligence but the High Court threw out her claim against the hospital.
Ms Azlin, who told the press that she cried after the ruling, persevered and appealed the court’s decision. On 26 Feb, the Court of Appeals found CGH negligent in their care of the patient and noted that had the condition been diagnosed earlier, “we find it unlikely that the lung cancer would have progressed to Stage IIA.”
Ms Azlin, who reportedly broke down when she heard the ruling, said that she kept fighting because she didn’t want “the same thing to happen to anyone else. I am sad it has happened to me, but I hope this can change the system so more lives can be saved.”
The Singaporean, who worked part-time to pay off her expensive medication bills, added that she is “relieved for now, but the settlement has not been decided on.” She also said that she accepts that there is no cure for Stage IV cancer but intends to fight it as long as she can, explaining: “I love my life too much, and the people around me. I don’t want my mum to worry.”
The bold fighter, however, passed way on 1 April.
On Monday (30 Sept), Ms Azlin’s lawyer accepted a S$200,000 interim payout from CGH for medical negligence, after High Court Assistant Registrar James Lee issued a court order last month. Assistant Registrar Lee had conducted a hearing into how much of an interim payout Ms Azlin should be paid until a High Court judge completes a full assessment of the damages.
Ms Azlin, who died on the very day she was scheduled to meet Assistant Registrar Lee to continue court hearings on the interim payment, had noted that the legal case had been going on for over four years and that she had been fighting CGH for seven years in her interim payout application.
Supporting court documents show that Ms Azlin had referred to her submissions in 2017 where she sought about S$6.75 million in damages from the hospital based on losses over several years. She had said then that the court proceedings “may go on for some time yet before final findings are made and reliefs are granted in my favour, in spite of expedited directions if any”.
Following hearings in August and September, Assistant Registrar Lee ordered the S$200,000 interim payout based on Ms Azlin’s claim for pain and suffering, special damages for medical treatment, loss of pre-trial earnings and dependency in relation to her parents and brother.
A pre-trial conference on the case to assess the total amount of damages owed to Ms Azlin is scheduled to take place next month.