Lawyer: Late treatment led to prisoner’s death by TB

28 May 2019 / 11:22 H.

PETALING JAYA: A Sungai Buloh remand prisoner was said to have not been given timely and proper medical treatment, leading to his death from multiple organ failure due to disseminated tuberculosis (TB).

Lawyers for Liberty’s Melissa Sasidaran claimed M. Proosothaman, 25, had complained to his family members during a prison visit on May 5, 2019 of serious fever, stomach ache and diarrhoea, and that he had difficulty walking due to pain, but was only provided with Panadol.

The deceased was only brought to the Sungai Buloh Hospital much later on May 21, 2019, before succumbing to the disease four days later.

“The pathologists who conducted the post-mortem briefed the family members and lawyer that the deceased would have shown gradual symptoms of tuberculosis such as prolonged coughing, coughing with blood, fever, loss of weight and appetite,” the family’s lawyer said in a statement today.

“Further, the deceased would have contracted tuberculosis for a few months prior to his death. However, the deceased was only diagnosed with TB after he was admitted to the Sungai Buloh Hospital. By then the disease had spread throughout his body, causing multiple organ failure.”

Melissa questioned why Proosothaman was not treated earlier when he first showed signs of prolonged or serious illness and whether proper medical and quarantine procedures were carried out by the prison authorities as TB is a highly infectious disease.

She said such lapses were in breach of the Prison Act 1995 and the Prisons Regulations 2000 that require seriously ill prisoners to be admitted to hospital and for prisoners with contagious diseases to be treated and quarantined so as to prevent its spread.

Melissa said the Home Ministry and the Prisons Department must accept responsibility for Proosothaman’s death as it was entirely preventable.

“The Prisons Department must take the wellbeing of all prisoners seriously, including informing the medical authorities and family members of any illnesses or injuries affecting prisoners, and not wait until the last moments when it is already too late.

“We call upon the police to launch an immediate investigation into this death which has elements of criminal negligence causing death,” she said.

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