As parents, nothing matters more than being able to see your child grow up healthy and well. However, for father Desmond Neo, that dream can no longer be realized for his precious daughter.
Little 11-month-old Joel Neo was suffering from a high fever of 39°C, which prompted her parents to decide on sending her to get hospital care in Pantai Hospital, trusting the nurses and doctors to be able to bring their child back to optimal health from what seemed to be a simple case of high fever. What followed the next few days ended up being the worst days of their lives.
A few hours after the doctors and nurses had administered medication, things took a turn for the worse when Joel’s lips started turning purple, and her hands black. Worried, Neo called for a doctor, who then told him that it was a normal occurrence of the fever. Though he was shocked and dubious on what the doctor was telling him, he decided that the doctor knew best and decided to give him the benefit of a doubt. When the fever did not recede, stronger doses of medication was administered just a mere 7 hours after the initial dose.
That, in return resulted in little Joel ending up in a deep sleep for many hours. Feeling uneasy, Neo then asked the doctor about it, and was told that it was a normal effect of the medication that was administered. Thinking that something wasn’t right, he started considering transferring his child to another hospital, but was unable to do so as it was during the wee hours of the morning. They also contacted their friend, who was a doctor, who then requested for the list of medication administered, but received no help from the nurses.
As Joel’s fever spiked throughout the night, Neo panicked and requested for the nurse, whom gave his daughter another dose of medication, dismissing Neo’s concerns on the frequency of the administering of medication. However, it was to no avail. Neo demanded that the nurses contacted the doctor immediately, and was willing to pay the RM150 surcharge to do so. Instead of contacting the doctor in charge, however, the nurses contacted the doctor working in the emergency ward, whom then told Neo and his family to get cold water to sponge Joel’s body.
Worried, Neo, his pregnant wife and elderly mother did as they were told, though it was supposed to be the nurses’ jobs. When that wasn’t working, they called for the doctor again, who then told them to strip her and expose her to the air conditioning, stating that it would definitely work. Apprehensive, they did as they were told. Throughout the night, they pleaded many times for the nurse to contact the doctor in charge but to no avail.
To his horror, at around 6am, his child started vomiting dark brown coloured liquid, otherwise known as ‘coffee ground’. After vomiting twice, the nurses appeared and placed an oxygen mask over her face to ensure that she was getting enough oxygen. It was then followed by two more rounds of vomiting, but according to Desmond, the colouring looked more like blood.
It was then that the emergency alarm started ringing and a swarm of doctors and nurses appeared, and they rushed her off to the ICU. There, the doctors then notified Neo that they actually do not have the sufficient equipment to be able to save their child, and requests that they transfer their child to another hospital for hospital care. Imagine being told that when your child is in critical condition!
Unfortunately, there was no happy end to this story. 11 days after this unfortunate example of Malaysia’s hospital care, his precious little girl passed away in a government hospital. Was all this due to negligence? After reviewing the replies from Pantai after Neo questioned the hospital regarding their actions, it seems so.
Joel had suffered from Acute Necrotizing Encephalopathy Of Childhood (ANEC), which was not diagnosed. It is a rare disease characterized by respiratory or gastrointestinal infection and high fever accompanying with rapid alteration of consciousness and seizures, all of which she showed signs of. If the nurses and doctors did not dismiss Neo’s concerns and decided to get her thoroughly checked out either through and MRI or CT scan, things might have turned out differently.
A word of advice from me to all you mothers out there, if possible, always get a second opinion. Trust your gut when something doesn’t feel right, and always, always monitor what the nurses are administering to your children when receiving hospital care. There has been many cases in which nurses have administered the wrong medication to their patients. Stay vigilant to ensure that Neo’s misfortune will not happen again.
Motherhood.com.my would like to offer our condolences to Desmond Neo and his family for the untimely passing of Joel Neo. RIP little baby girl.