Changi General Hospital to improve communication after recent complaints
Hospital to streamline palliative care for dementia patients and improve communication to better engage patients' families
Changi General Hospital (CGH) will be making more improvements to hospital processes to improve patient care.
These include expanding and streamlining palliative care for dementia patients, to ensure they are better taken care of.
It will also be enhancing its communication framework, which includes better communication with patients and their families.
Professor Teo Eng Kiong, the chairman of the medical board of CGH, said the enhanced communication framework will better engage families with potentially differing opinions on end-of-life issues and better support patients and their families.
He said: "We would like to develop this in partnership with our patients and their families so that we deliver care that is meaningful to them."
The staff will also be better equipped to respond sensitively and compassionately, he added.
The hospital emphasises that the improvements to its processes are part of an ongoing process of regular reviews.
"We will continue to conduct regular reviews of the hospital's processes to improve patient experience and safety," said Prof Teo.
CGH recently dealt with complaints over patient care and communication.
Last month, marketing executive Isabella Lim, 24, posted on Facebook about the "unhappy" experience her family had when her dementia-stricken grandmother was warded at CGH.
She said her family was not kept updated with complete information on her grandmother's condition, such as her medical history. She also claimed some information was not communicated clearly.
Ms Lim told The New Paper: "The entire time, we felt so frustrated and helpless because the hospital couldn't give us answers. Most of the time, we were Googling about my grandmother's condition.
"It was an emotional period for us, and yet we had to deal with these problems."
She also felt some of the hospital staff were unprofessional, such as in making insensitive remarks.
Ms Lim's grandmother, 81, was first admitted to CGH in February after a fall at home left her with a compression fracture.
During her stay, she contracted urinary tract infection (UTI). She was discharged on April 4 but was re-admitted three days later because she had trouble urinating.
She was transferred to a dementia ward, where Ms Lim said her condition declined.
The elderly woman was suspected to have ischemic bowel disease, a condition where blood flow to the intestines is reduced.
Said Ms Lim: "Then the hospital told us my grandmother had only a week to live after about 2½ weeks in the hospital.
"We were all shocked because we didn't know how her condition had declined so quickly from a fall, to a UTI, and then she was dying."
On May 3, the family transferred the grandmother to the National University Hospital (NUH), where nurses discovered she had severe bedsores.
Ms Lim's grandmother died in NUH on May 5.
In a statement to TNP on June 10, CGH said it had apologised to the family for the anxiety caused and had met them to share the findings of the case.
The hospital admitted it could have improved communication processes.
CGH also responded to a complaint in February by local actor Laurence Pang, 73, who accused the hospital of failing to detect a blocked artery.
Mr Pang was rushed to CGH after suffering chest pains on the morning of Jan 7 and tests were performed on him.
He was discharged the next morning and scheduled for a check at the cardiology clinic on Jan 14. He was also asked to go for a treadmill test in March.
But after experiencing severe chest pains again in February, Mr Pang went to NUH instead, where doctors found his artery severely blocked after a dye test and performed an angioplasty on him.
He said: "It was very scary, I could have died."
But CGH said appropriate care was provided based on his clinical presentation and the results of investigations performed during his visits to CGH.
Dr Liew Boon Wah, the chief of cardiology at CGH, told TNP: "As a patient's symptoms might change over time in terms of frequency, severity and presentation, as the underlying medical condition changes, we had advised Mr Pang to seek urgent medical attention if his symptom changed."
Cardiologist Peter Ting from cardiology clinic Prime Heart Centre said it is reasonable for hospitals not to jump straight into an invasive procedure.
He said: "Every case is different and there is a whole range of different tests. The hospital will assess the risks before coming to a decision."