NUH apologises for pregnant woman's 2-hour wait, said it is reviewing processes
The National University Hospital (NUH) has apologised for the incident where a 36-week pregnant woman waited at its emergency department (ED) for two hours and later lost her baby.
NUH chief executive officer Aymeric Lim said in a statement on Wednesday night (March 23) that the hospital should have done more to provide closer monitoring and care to the woman, and is reviewing its process of managing expectant patients admitted into the ED so that such incidents do not happen again.
"She waited for two hours and this should not have been the case in this circumstance, and we are sorry," said Prof Lim.
"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."
The hospital's apology came after the woman's husband wrote on Facebook on Monday (March 21) that no one attended to his wife after she arrived at NUH in an ambulance on March 15 and was left "bleeding profusely" for about two hours.
The man said his wife was subsequently sent to a maternity ward after two hours where she was attended to by doctors and nurses. His wife was later told that she had lost her baby.
Prof Lim said that the woman was admitted to NUH's ED that night at 10.35pm for bleeding, and was attended to immediately upon arrival.
"She was noted to be stable, and her bleeding had subsided en route to the hospital," it said.
"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," he said.
Prof Lim said the ED was experiencing high patient load at that time, and that NUH accords high priority to patients who need medical attention. The woman was placed next to the nursing station for closer visual monitoring, he noted.
Patients in labour are admitted to the labour ward upon admission to ED, said Prof Lim.
"As she was in early labour, arrangement was made to transfer her to the labour ward as soon as possible, which was full at that time," he said. He noted that NUH was managing three other expectant patients with Covid-19 in the ED and labour ward.
When she was finally transferred to the labour ward, the woman was immediately attended to, said Prof Lim. She was cared for by a team led by two senior consultants.
"An ultrasound scan showed the absence of a fetal heartbeat, caused by placental abruption, a rare and unpredictable pregnancy complication," he added.
Prof Lim said hospital staff in both the ED and labour wards were kept very busy having to manage these urgent cases.
Currently, all pregnant women over 36 weeks who have Covid-19 are admitted to three public hospitals for care and delivery. They are NUH, KK Women's and Children's Hospital and Singapore General Hospital.
"Despite this added workload, we have a duty of care towards our patients," said Prof Lim.
" It has been challenging to maintain the hospital's high standards for care amidst the Covid-19 outbreak given the high numbers of patients admitting into the hospital for both emergent Covid-19 and non-Covid clinical conditions."
The NUH team and its clinical and nursing leads met the family on Wednesday, he added.
"We are deeply saddened by the family's loss and will continue to provide care and support to them during this difficult period.
"(We) appreciate the opportunity to address their concerns directly. We will do our best to support them and ensure the patient's well-being," he said.