Hospital rules out haze link in elderly woman’s death

LAURA ELIZABETH PHILOMIN Today Online 16 Nov 15;

SINGAPORE — The family of an elderly woman who died from a severe lung infection in October claims she developed the condition because of this year’s prolonged haze episode even though the hospital she stayed at has ruled out the link.

Madam Pang Moy, 86, was warded in the Singapore General Hospital (SGH) after she complained of breathing difficulties in late September, around the time when Pollutant Standards Index readings crossed the 300 mark, her son-in-law Kelvin Ong said.

“She was in the normal ward for about five days. The doctor declared (it was a) lung infection (and) she went into the intensive care unit for about 10 days. And at first, they said she seemed to be recovering ... (but) the next moment she died,” said Mr Ong, a company owner.

Mdm Pang died on Oct 10.

Responding to TODAY’s queries, SGH said Mdm Pang was seen by its emergency department on Sept 25 for a history of cough and was admitted that day after she was found to have a severe lung infection. “Despite our efforts to treat her, Mdm Pang’s condition deteriorated. She later passed on due to the complications brought about by the infection, which is not haze-related,” said Dr Cheah Kee Leong, SGH’s Acting Head for the Department of Internal Medicine.

The hospital did not say how it deduced that the lung infection was not caused by the haze.

“Throughout her hospital stay, we have kept Mdm Pang’s family updated on her condition. We have contacted the family to clarify their concerns,” added Dr Cheah.

But Mr Ong said his mother-in-law had no pre-existing lung conditions. Although she suffered from hypertension and diabetes, she was a relatively healthy woman for her age, he added.

“She was a normal lady. She could go to the market, she could cook for herself,” he said, adding that she was mobile enough to live on her own.

Mr Ong declined further comment on SGH’s statement. LAURA PHILOMIN

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