KUALA LUMPUR, Sept 18 – Distraught parents of Carmen Yee have accused Penang Hospital of negligence that caused their 19-year-old daughter’s death from tuberculosis (TB).
The couple’s only daughter died from the infectious disease on August 26 in the hospital.
“Why did this tragedy happen? Because of negligence, I lost my daughter,” Carmen’s mother Vivian Teoh a press conference yesterday, as reported by The Star.
When she first went to the Penang Hospital, Carmen was allegedly not warded as she had what seemed like a normal cough and cold.
On August 20, her school contacted Carmen’s father, Yee Kok Kee, after classmates saw her coughing blood.
Kok Kee then took his daughter to a private clinic where the doctor took an X-ray of her chest and diagnosed her with TB.
“The doctor at Penang Hospital also took X-rays and sputum samples for three days. They confirmed on August 23 that it was TB but said it was a mild case.
“They gave my daughter medicine and asked us to take her home and come back after two weeks,” he said.
Upon return that night, Carmen vomited “a lot of blood”, causing her parents to take her to the emergency ward of the hospital.
Vivian said that the doctors gave her daughter more medications and allowed her to go home.
The following day, Carmen “vomited blood non-stop” after dinner.
“We called for an ambulance. Twenty minutes later, someone from Penang Hospital called back and said they had no ambulance to spare.
“So we drove our unconscious daughter to hospital,” she said.
Carmen died in the intensive care unit without regaining consciousness.
Following this, Deputy Health Minister Dr Lee Boon Chye met with the grieving parents and assured them that the Ministry of Health would conduct an independent investigation into Carmen’s death.
“The investigation will look at all aspects of the case, including the treatment rendered to the patient and any possibility of negligence,” he said.
Following the screening of 373 students and teachers of SMJ(K) Heng Ee, the school Carmen went to, the Health Ministry discovered that 33 of them are suspected of having latent TB.
“We will do an immunological test and if they are confirmed positive, they will be given latent TB treatment,” Dr Lee said.
As for the remaining 340 initially screened, they will be monitored and will have to be screened again in two years’ time.
TB is caused by bacteria that mostly affect the lungs. It’s spread from person to person through the air and is listed as one of the top 10 causes of death worldwide, according to the World Health Organization.