Maid's negligence led to toothbrush stuck in toddler's throat

Amir Hussain
·Senior Reporter
·2 min read
The Singapore State Courts. (PHOTO: Dhany Osman / Yahoo News Singapore)
The Singapore State Courts. (PHOTO: Dhany Osman / Yahoo News Singapore)

SINGAPORE — A maid left a loose toothbrush in a two-year-old boy's mouth unattended, resulting in the toddler choking on the object and vomiting blood, a court heard.

He had to be sent to hospital where he vomited more blood. Surgeons removed the toothbrush with a pair of strong forceps.

At the State Courts on Tuesday (9 March), the maid from Myanmar Chi Nar Paw Tan, 24, was jailed for eight weeks after she pleaded guilty to causing hurt by a negligent act endangering life.

About the case

On 27 December last year, the boy was home with his mother and two older siblings. At about 4pm, the mother told Chi Nar Paw Tan to bathe the victim.

While brushing the victim’s teeth with one hand, the maid soaped his body with the other.

"The accused then turned her back on the victim and left the victim unattended to find the showerhead. In doing so, the accused left the loose toothbrush in the victim’s mouth," said Deputy Public Prosecutor Andre Ong.

After finding the showerhead, Chi Nar Paw Tan heard a shout from behind her and turned to see the back end of the toothbrush sticking out of the child's mouth. He was crying, gagging and choking on the object, and vomited blood onto the toilet floor.

The victim's mother called for an ambulance, which sent him to Tan Tock Seng Hospital. An X-ray revealed that the toothbush head was stuck in the middle of his oesophagus. But doctors did not try to remove the toothbrush as they didn't have the necessary equipment to do so.

The boy was then sent to KK Women’s and Children’s Hospital. While waiting for an operating theatre to be available, he vomited dried blood.

The toothbrush was later removed with a pair of strong forceps. The bristles of the brush were caked brown with dried blood.

The victim had abrasions all along the back wall of the throat and oesophagus. He was hospitalised from 27 to 31 December.

The prosecution sought the sentence that was meted out, noting the severe harm caused to the victim.

Chi Nar Paw Tan's sentence was backdated to the date of her remand on 29 December.

The maximum punishment for causing hurt by a negligent act is up to six months' jail and/or a fine of up to $2,500. If the offence is committed against a person under 14, the maximum penalty is doubled.

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