The Control Yuan confirmed yesterday that an investigation into the handling of a SARS outbreak at Taipei Municipal Hoping Hospital is underway.
"The Control Yuan inaugurated its probe into possible administrative errors leading to the mass infection of SARS at the hospital on the same day the hospital was sealed off on April 24," convener of the Control Yuan investigation committee Chao Chang-ping (趙昌平) said.
Chao said that the probe will be carried out in phases and that the committee will not at this stage carry out inquiries into individual hospital staff.
"The investigation has started by collecting background information on the hospital's record of receiving its first SARS cases and the first-phase treatment since it is improper to request information on personnel while they are still trying to contain the epidemic," Chao said.
Chao nevertheless said it is necessary to fathom whether the mass infections were the result of human error.
"An investigation is compulsory because Taiwan should have been alerted by the first outbreak in China in February," Chao said. "The hospital administration must have had prior warning that the epidemic could spread to the island," he said.
Chao said that an inquiry into the actions of hospital staff will start as soon as the country starts to win the battle against SARS.
According to Chao, the sacked superintendent of Hoping Hospital Wu Kang-wen (吳康文), Taipei City Mayor Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) and head officials of the city's health bureau could face a Control Yuan review to determine whether they were negligent in their duties.
"The hospital infections undoubtedly extended the epidemic outbreak to a nationwide level," Chao said. "The countermeasures adopted by the authorities and the hospital administration revealed further problems since SARS cases continued to increase."
Lee Shen-yi (李伸一), a member of the committee, said that the probe will be conducted "without regard for official rank or political stance."