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NUH apologises for leaving pregnant woman unattended for 2 hours, says it will review processes

NUH apologises for leaving pregnant woman unattended for 2 hours, says it will review processes

File photo of an exterior view of the National University Hospital in Singapore.

SINGAPORE: National University Hospital (NUH) apologised on Thursday (Mar 24) over an incident last week in which an expectant woman was left waiting at the emergency department (ED) for two hours and lost her baby.

“We are deeply saddened by the family’s loss and will continue to provide care and support to them during this difficult period,” said NUH in a Facebook post early on Thursday.

The 36-week pregnant woman, whose experience was recounted by her husband, Facebook user Mee Pok Tah, had been admitted to NUH on Mar 15 for bleeding. After initial triage at the ED, the woman was left unattended for two hours before she was sent to the labour ward, the user wrote in a Facebook post.

Doctors then informed the couple that the wife had suffered a miscarriage.   

“This is a really unfortunate incident and I can’t stop thinking could my baby be saved if only we were attended to promptly,” read the post, which was put up on Monday.


According to NUH, the woman was attended to immediately upon her arrival at the hospital’s ED.

"She was noted to be stable and that her bleeding had subsided en route to the hospital," said NUH.

"During the ED triage, her vital signs were within normal parameters. She indicated she was experiencing mild pain, and was assessed as 2/10 on the pain score by our nurses."

But as the labour ward was full at that time, the patient could not be transferred from the ED to the labour ward, said NUH. She was instead placed next to the nursing station for closer visual monitoring.

“She waited for two hours and this should not have been the case in this circumstance, and we are sorry,” said NUH. “During this time, we should have done more to provide closer monitoring and care, as well as to update the patient of her condition and the transfer.”

At the labour ward, an ultrasound scan showed the absence of a fetal heartbeat, caused by placental abruption, a rare and unpredictable pregnancy complication, NUH said.


NUH said “it has been challenging” maintaining the hospital’s standards for care amidst the COVID-19 outbreak due to the high number of patients being admitted to hospital for both emergent COVID-19 and non-COVID clinical conditions.

Currently, all COVID-19 positive pregnant women over 36 weeks are admitted to the three public hospitals for care and delivery.

During the night of the incident, NUH said it was managing three other expectant patients in the ED and labour ward.

“The hospital staff in both the ED and labour wards were kept very busy having to manage all these urgent cases,” said NUH, adding that it will review its processes “so that such incidents do not happen again”.

NUH said it met with the family on Wednesday and appreciated the opportunity to address their concerns directly.

“We will do our best to support them and ensure the patient’s well-being,” it said.

Source: CNA/ec(ac)


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