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Dr Othman said hospital staff had attended to an elderly Covid-19 patient within five minutes of being alerted that he had fallen from his bed. — Picture by Shafwan Zaidon
Dr Othman said hospital staff had attended to an elderly Covid-19 patient within five minutes of being alerted that he had fallen from his bed. — Picture by Shafwan Zaidon

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KUALA LUMPUR, Aug 31 — Medical staff on duty at the Sultan Abdul Halim Hospital in Sungai Petani had attended to a warded elderly Covid-19 patient within five minutes of being alerted that he had fallen from his bed, Dr Othman Warijo said today.

The Kedah health director was responding to a video clip of the incident that spread on social media yesterday that appeared to suggest the death was because medical staff were late by some 40 minutes.

In a statement, Dr Othman related that hospital staff on duty in the Covid-19 ward had just removed their personal protective equipment (PPE) when they were alerted by a patient that another patient had fallen out of his bed onto the floor at 2.25pm yesterday.

He said the staff had finished making a round of the ward at 1.45pm earlier.

“The medical officers rushed to put on their PPE and immediately examined the patient, who was found slumped on the ward floor.

“It took the officers five minutes to don their PPE, by which time the patient no longer had any signs of life. He was lifted back onto the bed, and subsequently confirmed to have died of Severe Covid-19 Pneumonia,” Dr Othman said.

He explained that the Covid-19 patient was a referral from the Kuala Muda District Covid-19 Evaluation Centre and had been admitted to the hospital on August 26.

“Throughout his stay in the ward, the patient was unstable and required an increasing level of oxygen pressure. However he was seen to be uncomfortable with the oxygen assistance equipment he had to wear, and was monitored more frequently by personnel who could speak in his mother tongue, to ease communication.

“Medical experts met with the patient’s family members on the same day, and explained the actual situation. They had been earlier informed of his declining health, and accepted the explanation provided by the hospital,” he added.

Dr Othman expressed his condolences to the patient’s family on behalf of the department and said the video clip should not have been circulated.

“We ask the public to respect the family members of the deceased, and refrain from further spreading the video. The department will conduct a detailed investigation into the incident, and take the necessary steps to improve things,” he said.

A 38-second video clip was circulated through WhatsApp yesterday showing a patient on his knees on the floor of a hospital bed and trying to pull himself upright.

The video was cut short and when it restarted, the patient was seen lying motionless with a urine bag beside him while another patient approached to check.

According to the video poster, the motionless patient had been left unattended by ward staff until he was confirmed dead 40 minutes later.

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