SIBU: The Ministry of Health (MOH) will investigate to find out why a woman who eventually died of rabies was not referred to the dog bite clinic for treatment as per Standard Operating Procedure (SOP).
“All frontline doctors in Sarawak (A&E and OPD in hospitals and health clinics) are reminded to adhere to SOP for dog bites,” Deputy Health Minister Dr Lee Boon Chye told The Borneo Post via WhatsApp yesterday.
Dr Lee said this when asked whether MOH would probe a claim of doctor negligence in the 18th rabies death in Sarawak as urged by Deputy Chief Minister Datuk Amar Douglas Uggah.
Uggah, who is also the State Disaster Management Committee chairman, has said if the claim is proven to be true, it would be the second such case recorded in the state where a doctor had failed to refer a dog bite patient to the Rabies Clinic.
He added that such case of (alleged) negligence was very serious and should not have happened because it was imperative for doctors to adhere to the SOP set by the Health Ministry.
He added the Health Ministry ought to investigate to ensure that there was no breach in the SOP in which patients involved in cases of dog bites must be immediately sent to the Rabies Clinic.
On Thursday, Health director-general Datuk Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah in a statement said a 61-year-old woman from Pending in Kuching passed away at 10.47pm Wednesday at the Sarawak General Hospital (SGH) where she had been receiving intensive care since June 8.
He said the woman was bitten by a stray dog on her right thumb on April 29 when she tried to chase away a dog that was barking at her.
The victim had washed her wound for about five minutes and immediately sought treatment at a community clinic near her home.
Another appointment was then set for her a week later, but she did not show up for the follow-up treatment as she thought her wound had healed, Dr Noor Hisham explained.
“On June 6, she felt sick and discomfort on her right arm. She went to SGH (on June 8) and was immediately administered rabies immunoglobulin (RIG).
“The next day, she complained of nausea, headache, difficulty to swallow water (hydrophobia), discomfort on her right arm and weakness of her lower body,” he further said.
To date, there have been 19 rabies cases recorded in Sarawak since an outbreak was declared in the state on July 1, 2017, resulting in 18 deaths. Of the 19 cases, three were reported this year.
The lone survivor – a seven-year-old boy – was discharged from SGH early last year and is currently receiving treatment at home for neurological complications.
The Sarawak Health Department has issued a notice to all medical practitioners in the state to ensure the administration of animal-bite cases follows the set guidelines.
Cases with the risk of rabies infection or involving victims who do not seek follow-up treatment must be informed immediately to the nearest health office so that the victims can be traced.