Latest rabies death could have been due to doc’s negligence

There have been 19 deaths from rabies in Sarawak since July 1, 2017.

KUCHING: The state government said the death yesterday of a 61-year-old woman from rabies could have been caused by the negligence of a doctor who failed to refer her to a rabies clinic.

Deputy Chief Minister Douglas Uggah Embas, who is also the chairman of the Sarawak state disaster management committee, urged the health ministry to investigate the case and ensure that the standard operating procedure (SOP) on dog bites was followed.

He said the SOP on “how to respond to any cases involving dog bites” included immediately sending or referring the patient to the rabies clinic.

“This could be the second case in Sarawak where the doctor had failed to refer a dog bite victim to the rabies clinic.

“Negligence is a serious matter and should not happen. It is imperative for doctors to adhere to the SOP set by the health ministry,” he said in a statement today.

The woman from Pending was reported to have succumbed to rabies yesterday, bringing the death toll to 19 since the outbreak of the disease in the state in 2017.

She had been bitten by a stray dog in April and sought treatment at the community clinic but did not go for a follow-up treatment as she assumed the wound was healed.

However, she fell ill on June 6 and was admitted to the Sarawak General Hospital two days later.

Of the 19 deaths reported since July 1, 2017, three took place this year.