Singapore Health Services (SingHealth) has apologised after a polyclinic doctor wrongly checked the ‘HIV positive’ box in a pregnant woman’s medical examination report. Formed in 2000, SingHealth is Singapore’s largest group of healthcare institutions, comprising a network of four public hospitals, five national specialty centres and nine polyclinics.
A netizen known as Keith told reporters recently that he and his wife, who is pregnant with their second child, were shocked to see the report from Outram Polyclinic earlier this month, on 6 June. Keith’s wife, a permanent residence applicant, had undergone the routine medical exam for PR purposes and the report was to be sent to Immigration and Checkpoints Authority (ICA).
Keith and his wife were anxious, given the fact that they are expecting their child. They were also confused since a prior medical examination his wife underwent six months ago, in December last year, indicated that Keith’s wife was HIV Negative or non-reactive.
Keith immediately contacted Singhealth to investigate further, adding that a several scary consequences – such as divorce, suicide, or abortion – could have occurred if his wife really was HIV positive and if they were “of weak heart and mind”. He told reporters:
“This is not a small issue. She is pregnant with a second child there are a lot of risks involved.
“If we were to be of weak heart and mind, divorce could have taken place or even suicide could have happened with the unborn baby inside. If I were to be a father or a mother who knows the baby will be born HIV positive, the second thing that could have happened was an abortion.”
SingHealth Polyclinics – Outram Clinic Director, Dr Sinead Wang, has since apologised publicly for the error. Dr Wang told reporters:
“We apologise unreservedly for the distress and anxiety caused to our patient and her family for the transcribing error in the ICA medical examination report.
“The patient visited Outram Polyclinic in June 2018. During the visit, the patient requested for the doctor to certify her ICA medical examination report. During the process, the doctor mistakenly ticked the HIV ‘positive’ box in the report, even though the HIV screening result was negative.
“Following the incident, we have contacted the patient and her family to extend our apologies and provided them with a fresh ICA medical examination report.
“We have counselled the attending doctor and taken steps to strengthen our processes to ensure that this does not happen again.”