Singapore

Family agrees to $1.28 million settlement after man's death

He was admitted to hospital in 2012 for day surgery to cure his snoring but fell into a coma lasting more than four years.

On Sept 21 last year, Chinese national Gu Ziqiang, 37, died in a nursing home, while still in a persistent vegetative state.

His wife, Madam Kong Ling Hui, 37, remained embroiled in a lawsuit against Jurong Health Services and three doctors involved in his case for alleged negligence.

Settling a negligence claim with Jurong Health Services and three others on Tuesday, Mr Gu's family, who stayed in Sichuan province when he moved here to work, will receive $397,200 as the final payout.

This is over and above some $129,770 paid in advance between 2014 and last year as goodwill and interim payouts, as well as for travel, accommodation and other expenses incurred by family members that included funeral costs.

Jurong Health Services dropped all hospital bills for Mr Gu, which totalled $599,327, and the defendants further agreed to settle the expenses of his nursing home stay, which amounted to some $156,286.

All in, the global settlement involving $1.28 million was approved by Judicial Commissioner Pang Khang Chau in the High Court on Tuesday.

In July 2012, Mr Gu, who worked here for three years driving a bus, was admitted for day surgery at Alexandra Hospital to remove a nasal obstruction.

A tube was inserted into his windpipe to help in breathing and protect his airway before the surgery began.

But 20 minutes later, the oxygen level in Mr Gu's blood fell.

Subsequently, an intensive care unit (ICU) consultant re-checked the tube placement, among other things, according to court papers.

Mr Gu never regained consciousness and remained in the ICU for more than a month. He was transferred to a nursing home in 2015 and died last year.

Madam Kong, who has two sons, aged six and nine, works in retail, earning 2,000 yuan ($410) a month.

Of the compensation, she told The Straits Times in a phone interview from Sichuan: "It takes so much more to raise two children and care for my in-laws. Even if I felt some things were unfair, there is nothing we can do about it."

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