Independent panel to review SGH response to hepatitis C cases

Whether Singapore General Hospital (SGH) was timely in reporting information will be one of the issues which the Independent Review Committee, tasked with investigating how hepatitis C infections there occurred, will examine.

Health Minister Gan Kim Yong, stressing the importance of transparency, said yesterday that the committee would critically look into the timeline of events provided by SGH to see whether there were gaps in the process.

These include "the timeliness of SGH's response, how crucial information is reported, and whether there are areas that need to be tightened and improved upon, such as safety protocols and information flow".

On Tuesday, SGH made known that 22 kidney patients had contracted hepatitis C infections while receiving treatment in the hospital. It first suspected the cases were linked as early as mid-May though tests confirmed this only later.

It informed the Ministry of Health (MOH) in late August and briefed the minister on Sept 25.

On Wednesday, MOH released a sequence of events in response to media queries on why SGH took so long to make the information public.

In his statement, Mr Gan said: "If there are gaps, we will close them. If there are weak areas, we will correct them. And if there are shortcomings, we will improve.

"It is important that we remain transparent. We will share the findings of the Review Committee when they are ready.

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