Singapore

Cancer victim’s estate gets $200k interim payout for medical negligence

Six months to the day she died, cancer victim Noor Azlin Abdul Rahman's estate received a $200,000 interim payout from Changi General Hospital (CGH) for medical negligence.

Her lawyer accepted the payout on Monday following a court order issued last month by High Court Assistant Registrar James Lee.

He had conducted a hearing into how much Ms Noor Azlin should be paid in the interim, pending a full assessment of the damages by a High Court judge in due course.

Ms Noor Azlin, who won her appeal in the top court in February against CGH for not detecting her cancer early, lost her battle with the disease on April 1.

She was 39 and had suffered from fourth-stage lung cancer.

According to her application for an interim payout, Ms Noor Azlin said court proceedings had gone on for more than four years and she had been fighting the hospital for seven years.

She first went to CGH in 2007 complaining of chest pains.

A chest X-ray taken then and subsequently in 2010 and 2011 each showed a shadow but further tests were not given.

It was only in 2011 that she was diagnosed with lung cancer, which by then had spread.

In February, the Court of Appeal found the hospital negligent in its care and directed CGH "to consider the possibility of settlement in the interests of expediency and resolution".

DISCRETION

The High Court has wide discretion in making an interim payout, which is meant to mitigate any hardship for the applicant that may arise from the start of the trial.

Ms Noor Azlin died on the day Assistant Registrar Lee was due to continue hearings in court on the interim payment.

Further hearings were held in August and last month, where her estate was represented by lawyer Vijay Kumar Rai from Engelin Teh Practice, and the hospital was represented by Senior Counsel Kuah Boon Theng from Legal Clinic LLC.

Assistant Registrar Lee ordered the $200,000 interim payout based on her claim for pain and suffering, special damages for medical treatment, loss of pre-trial earnings and dependency in relation to her parents and brother.

He said last month the full assessment exercise involved complex factual and legal issues based on the question of her survival rate and relapse chances had her cancer been treated at stage one.

A pre-trial conference in the High Court is due next month.

In her court papers to support her application for an interim payment, Ms Noor Azlin referred to her submissions in 2017 where she quantified total damages sought at some $6.75 million based on losses over several years.

Ms Noor Azlin had acknowledged then that proceedings "may go on for some time yet before final findings are made and reliefs are granted in my favour, in spite of expedited directions if any".

COURT & CRIME