Sent home in pain after 5-hour wait at A&E

PHOTO: Sent home in pain after 5-hour wait at A&E

I was recently taken to the accident and emergency (A&E) department at Singapore General Hospital by ambulance due to a knee injury which left me unable to walk.

I waited in a wheelchair from 2pm to 7pm.

When my turn finally came, I was seen by a young doctor.

She examined my knee and, without looking at my X-rays, said my case was not that bad.

She said I would have to wait till June 24 to see the specialist, since that appointment had earlier been set by my company doctor, who had written a referral letter based on X-ray results showing that I had fluid in both knees and that my left knee was swollen due to broken bone fragments.

Earlier, I had heard a more senior doctor say I could be put on the B2 priority waiting list, meaning I could be admitted to hospital.

If it was not for the pain I felt while walking, I am sure I could endure the wait to see the specialist. The young doctor said she could give me a jab but that would have been pointless as it lasts only three to four hours.

Giving me seven days of sick leave was also not what I wanted.

I told her that I could not walk, and she said that if I wanted earlier treatment, I could go to the private hospitals. If I could afford private hospitals, I would have asked the ambulance to take me to one instead of wasting half a day waiting, with nothing being done.

I am very disappointed over the treatment I received. I now have to limp between work and home until my appointment date.

Letter from Lee Miew Fun (Ms)

SGH's reply

Knee didn't need urgent surgery: SGH

We are sorry for Ms Lee Miew Fun's experience at our Emergency Department on June 11.

Ms Lee was seen by our doctor for sudden knee pain.

She had previously visited her general practitioner for the pain and was referred to the specialist outpatient clinic for further treatment of a degenerative knee condition.

Our emergency doctor had thoroughly examined her knees and referred to the X-ray reports before discussing with her the treatment for her condition.

As there were no signs of fractures or infection, Ms Lee was offered pain medication and rest to relieve her discomfort before her outpatient appointment on June 24.

We understand Ms Lee's anxiety over her knee pain.

However, based on the evaluation of her condition, she did not require immediate admission and urgent surgery as it was a non-emergency.

While our doctor had explained the treatment rationale to her, we could have been more sensitive in our communication.

The safety and well-being of our patients are a priority.

We would like to assure Ms Lee that due care was taken and that her medical management was appropriate.

Evelyn Wong (Dr) Head, Department of Emergency Medicine Singapore General Hospital

This article was first published on June 19, 2014. Get a copy of The Straits Times or go to straitstimes.com for more stories.