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Hepatitis C Outbreak – Senior hospital and Ministry staff who failed to intervene early warned and fined

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In keeping with Singapore’s culture which does not encourage top leaders to resign whenever things go wrong on their watch, 12 staff in leadership positions in Singapore General Hospital (SGH), and four director-level Ministry of Health (MOH) officers have been dealt with in the case of Hepatitis C outbreak, by the hospital and Ministry respectively.
SGH said that following the release of the Independent Review Committee’s (IRC) investigation of the outbreak, it appointed a Human Resource Panel to examine the roles, responsibilities and actions of key SGH staff to assess if disciplinary actions need to be taken.
While MOH said that it took its senior staff to task for “their failure to intervene early and to ensure the infectious disease notification and reporting system was effective and rigorous.”
“Warnings, stern warnings and financial penalties,” have now been meted out to the senior staff from MOH and SGH.
SGH’s Panel also made wide-ranging observations and recommendations to further strengthen the hospital’s infection control and disease outbreak surveillance and management mechanisms.
Ongoing steps taken to improve current infection control measures include:

  • Instituting regular, thorough cleaning and disinfection of potentially contaminated surfaces, with clearer roles and responsibilities for who should undertake the cleaning
  • Introducing enhanced education and training programmes, including curriculum for all new staff
  • Improving supervision and monitoring of practices such as hand hygiene practices
  • Use of needle-less connectors hospital-wide

An enhanced hospital-wide infection control education and training programme, with annual online competency assessment has also been started the hospital said. It would ensure compliance through regular audits, SGH added.
SGH further said that besides the cross-institutional audits within SingHealth, it also engaged Joint Commission International (JCI) consultants to review the Renal Unit’s clinical processes, which include renal transplant and infection control practices.
The hospital promised to make full use of the suggestions and recommendations by JCI consultants in its continuing efforts to enhance practices.

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