Patients face tough time at Malaysian govt hospital emergency departments

Health Minister Zaliha Mustafa said her ministry will seek comprehensive solutions to ease the problem. PHOTO: THE STAR/ASIA NEWS NETWORK

PETALING JAYA - Some had to hold their own IV bags while waiting to be treated. Some had to stand in the overcrowded government hospital emergency department, while others sat on the floor in the long wait to get medical attention.

Some said they had not been admitted because there was a lack of hospital beds.

These are among the claims shared by people on social media as public healthcare facilities in Malaysia are stretched to breaking point with a high number of patient arrivals.

On Jan 18, the Twitter account of the group championing rights for contract doctors, @HKontrak (Hartal Doktor Kontrak), shared a picture of fully occupied beds and a packed emergency department at Hospital Kuala Lumpur (HKL).

The post claimed that there was a more than 24-hour wait to be admitted, with almost 100 patients stranded in the emergency department during peak hours.

Twitter user, @hippochan94, described what she saw at another government hospital in the Klang Valley.

“Just yesterday I had a patient with acute appendicitis sitting on the floor with an (IV bag) in his hands, and a three-year-old kid with dengue who had to stand with the (IV bag) in her father’s hands. It is that bad...” she tweeted on Jan 18.

Ms Azimah Abdullah Zawawi, in a Facebook post on Jan 17, said she was disappointed by the poor treatment of her son at Hospital Pasir Mas in Kelantan after he was involved in an accident.

“An hour after I received a call that my son was involved in an accident, I arrived at the hospital and saw my son sitting in a wheelchair, with his face bleeding, vomit (on his front) and looking frail, with his clothes covered in blood.

“During treatment (to stitch mouth injuries), my son was left alone without supervision and with his mouth open for about 30 to 40 minutes,” she said.

She said she later took her son to be treated at another hospital after failing to persuade the attending doctor to admit him.

At the second hospital, her son’s stitches were redone and a wound on the stomach, which was overlooked at the previous hospital, was cleaned. She said she will submit a formal complaint to the Health Ministry via the Public Complaints Management System.

Specialist clinics are also facing problems.

Public healthcare expert Zainal Ariffin Omar, who went for a follow-up medical examination at a government specialist clinic last month, said it took him more than three hours to finish the examination, after taking a number to queue for his turn at 9am.

“Everything finished at 12.30pm. Many people were queueing up and many were also standing because there were not enough seats.

“The specialist room was also shared with medical officers. It was crowded too,” he said in a Facebook post on Dec 22 last year.

He said some examinations not available at the hospital were outsourced to a private facility at an estimated cost of RM120 (S$37).

“The staff was not sure whether the cost of the outsourced service is paid by the hospital,” he said.

Health Minister Zaliha Mustafa said her ministry will seek comprehensive solutions to ease the problem.

She said this included extending working hours, streamlining bed management systems, and adding more healthcare providers.

“Undeniably, with an increasing number of patients every day and various shortages, including manpower and facilities, it has exacerbated this congestion issue

Dr Zaliha said the effectiveness of implementing initiatives such as extending working hours at certain facilities is currently being reviewed, while efforts to empower the “lean healthcare system” are being improved.

For hospitals with sufficient space, she said the implementation of a “short-stay ward” would be introduced.

“The need to get more manpower including doctors, nurses, assistant medical officers, pharmacy officers, allied science professions, support staff and others would continue to be done,” she said.


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