Not enough care given to patients, Singapore mother

My 10-year-old girl cut her thumb and needed a few stitches at the Alexandra Hospital accident and emergency department (A&E) recently.

The bandage came off the next day and we used tissue to wrap up the wound. Two days later, we decided to go back to the hospital to get it re-bandaged as the wound was still quite raw.

We went to the hospital A&E some time after 11am and informed the nurse of the poor bandaging.

She checked with someone more senior and claimed we had to register and pay about $88 for another bandage.

When she noticed my unhappiness about this, she told me it may be cheaper to go to a general practitioner.

But it was a Sunday and the GP near our home was not open.

I then told her to provide me with the necessary accessories for the bandage so that I could try to do it myself. Her reply was that I could get these from the pharmacy.

Although she spoke to us nicely, we felt the hospital was not treating its patients with care, especially because it seemed to be a quiet morning with just one or two other patients waiting there.

We then went to the pharmacy and told the cashier about what had happened.

She advised us to go to Ward 2 to see if any nurse was "kind" enough to help with the bandage.

DISAPPOINTED

But to our shock, the nurse checked with her superior and told us to go back to the A&E.

We went off feeling very disappointed. My girl said she had read that the hospital would "provide their best service to their patients" and asked why no one would help her.

I had no idea how to answer that question.

Even in this commercial world, I do not think it would have taken very long for a skilled and experienced nurse to do that simple bandage, especially when there weren't a lot of other patients waiting.

And mind you, we were there only because the earlier bandage had come off.

ESTHER LIM

Hospital's reply

ALEXANDRIA HOSPITAL REPONDS

We would like to apologise for the experience encountered by Ms Esther Lim and her daughter at Alexandra Hospital on Nov 3.

Ms Lim's daughter was treated at our Emergency Department (ED) on Oct 31 for a wound on her thumb and was discharged with a referral letter for follow-up at the polyclinic, with instructions on wound care.

Ms Lim was also advised to take her daughter to the polyclinic for a change of dressing in two days, and removal of stitches in seven days.

Ms Lim returned to our ED on Nov 3 and requested our nurse to change the dressing for her daughter.

As the wound was clean and it was a non-emergency case, our nurse advised Ms Lim to seek treatment with a general practitioner, which is also the more cost-effective option for her.

In addition, Ms Lim asked for a supply of wound dressings, and our staff offered to accompany her to the hospital's retail pharmacy, but she declined.

We understand that Ms Lim eventually proceeded to the pharmacy.

We realise that our staff at the pharmacy then erroneously directed Ms Lim to the ward, which is meant for inpatient care only.

We sincerely apologise for the distress and anxiety this caused.

We could have done more to ease Ms Lim's and her daughter's concerns upon their return visit to our hospital and will take this opportunity to improve.

We also seek the understanding of Ms Lim and the public that the ED is intended for serious medical emergencies requiring immediate medical attention.

FROM CASEY CHANG
DIRECTOR, COMMUNICATIONS & SERVICE QUALITY DIVISION
ALEXANDRA HOSPITAL (JURONGHEALTH)


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