Friday, August 21, 2009

NST Online MMA explains why some hospitals turn away H1N1 patients

NST Online MMA explains why some hospitals turn away H1N1 patients

MMA explains why some hospitals turn away H1N1 patients

KUALA LUMPUR, Fri: Private clinics and hospitals are ever ready to treat people suspected to be suffering from Influenza A(H1N1) and will only turn away such patients if they lack adequate medical facilities, the Malaysian Medical Association (MMA) said today.

MMA president Dr David Quek Kwang Leng said he did not believe that private clinics or hospitals would turn away suspected Influenza A(H1N1) patients for any other reason.

He made this clarification to Bernama when commenting on a statement by Health Minister Datuk Seri Liow Tiong Lai yesterday that some private clinics and hospitals were reluctant to treat such patients and had referred them to government clinics or hospitals instead.

Dr Quek said H1N1 patients who sought treatment in private clinics or hospitals would have been referred to government hospitals later for a number of reasons.

"The private clinics or hospitals may not have adequate facilities, they may not be skilled in treating such cases or the patients may have serious complications. In some cases, the patients themselves may have asked to be transferred to government hospitals due to the higher cost of treatment at private hospitals," he said.

Earlier, in an e-mailed statement, Dr Quek said smaller private medical centres might not be adequately staffed or equipped to handle more seriously ill respiratory failure patients.

"But this is also the situation in some smaller district hospitals of the public sector. Furthermore, some of these gravely ill patients would not survive despite the most aggressive treatment strategies, under any circumstances," he said.

Dr Quek also said that private doctors were currently working hard with the Health Ministry to curb the disease although some of them and their clinic staff have become infected.

"But, thankfully, so far we have not received any news of more serious consequences such as death. So, private doctors are also exposed to this threat but continue to look after their patients, including those with flu-like illnesses," he added.

Commenting on claims by some private clinics that they did not receive any guidelines on how to deal with H1N1, Dr Quek said they could check the Health Ministry and MMA websites for updates.

"We have been disseminating information to all our doctor members the best way we can so that collectively we can help ameliorate the more serious consequences of this pandemic," he said.

The MMA is to organise a National Influenza A (H1N1) Pandemic Influenza Conference on Sept 12 to help disseminate and share more scientific and practical up-to-date information on H1N1.

On the antiviral drug to treat H1N1 which can be obtained at all clinic or hospital networks participating in the Influenza A(H1N1) preventive and treatment clinic, Dr Quek asked for adequate supply to be provided.

"The supply (of the antiviral drug) is not adequate. If you order 20 packets, you may only get 10 because the government has to distribute the drug to various places," he said. -- BERNAMA

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