16 October 2007

Minister: Don't condemn hospitals



It is unfair to claim that government hospitals provide low quality services when they treat 80 per cent of the sick in the country.

Health Minister Datuk Seri Dr Chua Soi Lek noted that last year, more than 40 million people were treated at government hospitals.

"It's grossly unfair to condemn these hospitals when they treat millions of Malaysians and foreigners," he said, adding that the public should not make judgments based on "a small number of errors in diagnosis and treatment".

"In any hospital in the world, error in diagnosis and treatment occurs three to 10 per cent of the time, and even in the best hospital, medical error and negligence occurs," said Dr Chua yesterday.

In the first six months of this year, he said, the ministry received 1,838 complaints from the public -- 60 per cent through letters, 15 per cent in person and the rest by telephone and in the media.

"Almost 80 per cent of the complaints were related to services provided by doctors, staff, medical assistants and pharmacists at government hospitals, polyclinics and health clinics."

He added that of these complaints, most were on unsatisfactory quality of service.

"Lack of communication between doctors and nurses and the patients is another big problem."

He said the hospitals with the highest number of complaints were Serdang, Penang and Kuala Lumpur Hospitals.

"Although the number of complaints is small compared to the millions of people treated, we take them seriously and initiate immediate investigations."

He said the ministry would take disciplinary action against anyone found to have committed medical negligence.

On the case of baby Lai Yok Shan at the Tengku Ampuan Rahimah Hospital in Klang, Dr Chua said the family had engaged a lawyer and all correspondence from the ministry was directed to the lawyer.

Yok Shan, who was delivered on July 23, lost her left arm below the elbow when a houseman mistakenly injected an intravenous needle into the muscle, causing the arm to become gangrenous.

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