Simple explanation from Raffles Hospital does not suffice

Blood shortage was not cause of death: Raffles Hospital
By Ng Baoying/Chua Su Sien, Channel NewsAsia | Posted: 11 July 2007 2214 hrs

The woman who died after giving birth to twins over the weekend was not denied blood, and her death was not because there was insufficient blood available at the time, according to Raffles Hospital.

It explained that an emergency blood transfusion was immediately started for Madam Swee Lay Kuan when massive bleeding occurred during surgery.

More blood was also immediately obtained from the blood bank.

The hospital said Madam Swee’s death was due to Disseminated Intra-vascular Coagulopathy (DIVC), an acute blood coagulation problem arising from massive bleeding and transfusion.

On Tuesday, it was reported that her husband had been told by hospital staff that if the family wanted more blood, they would have to round up others to donate some at the blood bank.

But Raffles Hospital clarified that while it is common practice to ask relatives and well-wishers to help replenish stock, it is never a requirement for blood to be released by the blood bank.

This is a stand supported by the blood bank.

Dr Diana Teo, Bloodbank@HSA, Centre for Transfusion Medicine, Health Sciences Authority, said: “It is not customary for the blood banks to request that hospitals ask family and friends to come forward to donate blood.

“However, we do know that some hospitals do try to help the blood programme by asking some of the patients to ask their family to come and support us. But I assure you that this is never a requirement from the blood bank.” – CNA/yy


I watched the original Channel 8 interview with the poor, sobbing husband as he described how the blood could not be released to his wife because of bureaucratic red tape. The next day, after reading the TODAY report, I got confused.

Raffles Hospital claims the patient was not denied blood. So why did the husband claim otherwise? Are they saying he was lying? Why then would he round up 200 of his friends and family (no easy task, if I might add) to donate blood to the blood bank so as to replenish its stock?

I don’t think Raffles Hospital should get off so easily with this simple explanation. It might be true that Mdm Swee died of causes other than a blood shortage, but sometime during the saga, one of its staff must have given the husband the impression that his wife had exceeded her limit. The hospital needs to explain in more detail why this happened. Is the hospital sure that all its staff are aware that no management authorisation or family blood donations are required to release more blood for emergencies? Or were they just reiterating a policy?

My deepest condolences to the family of the late Mdm Swee, especially her husband.

I hope this tragedy will spur more people to donate blood. I’m guilty of not doing donating for the last few years and really should do so soon.

Author: Gerald Giam

Gerald Giam is the Member of Parliament for Aljunied GRC. He is a member of the Workers' Party of Singapore. The opinions expressed on this page are his alone.

4 thoughts on “Simple explanation from Raffles Hospital does not suffice”

  1. I am as flabbergasted as you are.

    Have written an article in my blog which I hope will inspire Singaporeans to donate blood regularly….not only when there is a crisis.

    Now I have to stop donating blood because of high blood pressure. But glad I donated 75 times when I could quality.

  2. Oh. Forgot to say that it was my pet collie, Kambobo, which actually in a way inspired me to give blood regularly. (My article – A Bloody Dilemma).

  3. i believe no doctor in this world, would allow for any individual to die simply because of red tape.

    its a question of administrators and nurses who dont want to take accountability and responsibility – much like many other govt-linked orgs.

    because we’ve seen how a cock-up with regards to 3 extra strokes meant to the clerk. we’ve seen how a police sergeant had to wait until his superiors gave an order before letting a lady go for saying “bomb” one too many times in an airport. we’ve seen how a bus driver refused to take a different route to ease a roadblock.

    we have guidelines, and as mid-to-low level execs, doing anything beyond the guidelines will get one into trouble – esp if things go wrong. kiasuism and “cover backside” examples at their worst.

    in this sad case, the administrators and nurses and everybody else on the ground cannot be faulted for anything for following guidelines.

    aygee

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