Or at least that is one conclusion that we can draw if we compared how NUH reacted when finding out one of its nurses could have been suffering from TB since July and how SGH reacted when it found out it likely had an unexplained cluster of Hep-C cases. A nurse in NUH found that she had a TB patch in her lungs last Friday. Today, barely a week later, it was made known to the public. Compare that to SGH’s Hep-C case where it took four months from the time SGH’s infection control team was activated to when the news was made known to the public.
I think many people would naturally be curious why it is possible for NUH to only take a week to announce this TB incident to the public but SGH had to take close to four months before informing the public about the Hep-C outbreak. Unless there is some credible explanation, a lot of people will speculate that the main contributing factor to this difference is a certain event in September. Because it surely cannot be due to a concern that there will be mass panic. Just see how parents of patients who may have come into contact with the NUH nurse who has TB reacted. As reported in ST:
Madam Crystal Lim, 28, whose two-year-old son was in ward 47 for three weeks in August, was shocked when his doctor called to ask her to bring her son back for tests.
Her son had a liver transplant in October last year, but was back in hospital for treatment for a 3cm abscess on his buttocks. The doctor had explained that because of his transplant, he was at a higher risk.
She is worried, but not angry.
“I would be angry if the hospital did not do anything and the patients started getting TB. But they are doing something,” she said.
As for the nurse, Madam Lim said: “She did not do it purposely. All the nurses look after the children very well. I hope the doctors can help her get well.”
Worried, yes. Mass panic? Nope. I think this demonstrates that Singaporeans generally understand that things may go wrong. What is important is that proactive steps are taken to prevent further damage. And be open, transparent and upfront. Rather than obscure facts and information from the public.
It would be really interesting to hear what MOH has to say about the difference in how long things were made known to the public between the NUH and SGH incidents.
[Featured Image: NUH from ST file photo]