Via Channel NewsAsia: Doctors in shock over news of hepatitis C cluster at SGH. Excerpt:
The medical fraternity was shocked by news of a cluster of hepatitis C infections in Singapore General Hospital (SGH), given that hospitals here have established robust systems for handling medical equipment.
Doctors interviewed on Tuesday (Oct 6) said that the use of multi-dose vials — small containers with more than one dose of medication intended for injection or infusion — is common for injecting insulin and vaccines such as the BCG, and practitioners should be well-acquainted with the standard protocol for using them.
SGH first stepped in to investigate after the fifth case of infection — within less than a month — was detected on May 14, and subsequently took action including stopping the use of multi-dose vials. In late August, the hospital informed the Ministry of Health (MOH) of an “unusually large cluster” of hepatitis C patients. About a month later, it submitted a final report to the ministry. On Tuesday, it made public the outbreak after 22 cases of infections had surfaced so far.
On the time that the hospital took to begin investigations, the doctors who spoke to TODAY felt that it was reasonable, given that hepatitis C is a “silent disease” which does not exhibit symptoms at the point of infection.
Dr Desmond Wai, consultant gastroenterologist and hepatologist at Mount Elizabeth Novena Hospital, said: “It is understandably difficult to pinpoint that there is an outbreak... it is not so straightforward. If there is one isolated case, it is hard to pinpoint how it came about. Having said that, if there is a sudden outbreak of newly-diagnosed cases… related to a common source, say in the same ward, usually it will ring a bell for doctors to investigate.”