We read with puzzlement on the announcement of hepatitis C outbreak.
ST reported that it is reasonable for SGH to take two to three months to investigate and come up with a plausible explanation.
It was also stated that the hospital also did right by informing the authorities subsequently. Although time is required to verify the facts, the fact is MOH did release the statements late.
So, what is Hepatitis C?
Hepatitis C is a slow, progressive disease that takes years to damage the liver – cirrhosis (scarring of the liver), liver failure or liver cancer. In rare cases, hepatitis C could lead to deaths within weeks.
And how is Hepatitis C transmitted?
Transmitted mainly by blood to blood contact. Other ways of transmitting include unsafe injection practices(mainly due to drug abuse) or poorly sterilised equipment.
Hmmm, what are the multi-dose vials that are being reported?
Multi-dose vials refer to attaching new needles and syringes to a shared vial of fluid (see picture). For patients with Hepatitis C, the device is usually used only once as a precaution. Sometimes, multi-dose vials are used because the drugs are expensive and individuals only need small amounts.
Hospitals have strict protocols on how to use these multi-dose vials. If a patient requires 3 doses from one vial, the patient will get three doses from that vial. If the vial is to be shared with other patients, new needle/syringe will be used.
Next, are there any treatments for hepatitis C virus?
There is no vaccine for Hepatitis C, but treatment is available to prevent the onset of complications, such as cirrhosis.
Our thoughts on this outbreak led us to the below issues identified:
1) Why did it take so long to investigate this outbreak? – Incident started in mid-April and was only reported recently.
2) Root cause still unknown? – Was it due to patients sharing multi-dose vial?
3) Were there any proper explanations given to the deceased patients’ families?
Our only concern is:
1) What has been done to prevent similar cases from happening again?
Speculating on hepatitis C outbreak will only cause more pain to the deceased families.
We recognise that time is required to identify patterns before confirming outbreaks. MOH must get to the bottom of this as soon as possible.
Jamie – Rise of The Strawberry Generation (RTSN)
Saw this sensible response on FB
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