Denial of medical treatment caused prisoner’s TB death, lawyer claims

Melissa Sasidaran (white shirt) from Lawyers for Liberty (LFL) speaks to policemen at Sungai Buloh Hospital. — Picture via Twitter/Melissa_ms
Melissa Sasidaran (white shirt) from Lawyers for Liberty (LFL) speaks to policemen at Sungai Buloh Hospital. — Picture via Twitter/Melissa_ms

KUALA LUMPUR, May 28 — A Sungai Buloh prisoner who died from tuberculosis (TB) was only diagnosed when the disease had spread and caused organ failure, his family’s lawyer alleged.

Melissa Sasidaran from human rights group Lawyers for Liberty said M. Proosothaman, 25, had complained to his family during their last visit on May 5 about serious fever, stomach ache, diarrhoea, and difficulty walking due to intense pain, but he was only given panadol for his pain.

Proosothaman was only brought to Sungai Buloh Hospital on May 21 and died four days later from multiple organ failure due to TB.

“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,” Melissa said in a statement.

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

Melissa questioned if Sungai Buloh prison authorities had implemented proper medical and quarantine procedures, pointing out that TB is a highly infectious disease.

“Such lapses are 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 the spread of the disease.

“Further, the family members were not informed of the seriousness of his condition and that he had been admitted to the Sungai Buloh Hospital, and they were only alerted by a fellow patient at the hospital,” she said.

Melissa demanded action from the Health Ministry and the Prisons Department on the “serious public health issue” as there was now a risk of exposure to other prisoners, prison wardens and members of the public.

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

“All prisoners must not be treated as lesser deserving human beings and deprived of proper medical treatment just because they are prisoners. The Home Ministry and the Prisons Department must accept responsibility for Proosothaman’s death as it was entirely preventable.”

Related Articles