Sunday, August 23, 2009

Doctors confused by many ministry guidelines

By LESTER KONG

PETALING JAYA: Some private medical practitioners are confused by the Health Ministry’s guidelines on how to treat patients with influenza-like illnesses (ILI).

Federation of Private Medical Practitioners Associations Malaysia president Dr Steven Chow said the many guidelines that were issued were often conflicting.

For example, Dr Chow said general physicians (GPs) had been asked at one point to send all cases to the nearest hospital for testing; and when the hospitals could not cope, they were asked to send only selected cases.

Taking precautions: Several people including children wearing face masks at KL Sentral Saturday.

He added when deaths were first reported, private doctors were blamed for late diagnosis and referrals to government hospitals.

“When dengue was not controlled, they were blamed and then the A(H1N1) came.

“This does not help the doctors on the ground. It is a nightmare for our GPs,” he said in an e-mail interview.

He added that private sector GPs also faced a shortage of anti-viral drugs to treat the virus.

“The main stockpile is with the Government and we are not aware of the type prescribed by the Minis-try.”

However, Dr Chow reminded that the A(H1N1) strain was resistant to existing antiviral drugs.

“Antiviral drugs are not the magic bullet for stopping or controlling this pandemic. There has been too much hype on the usefulness of these medications,” he said.

Dr Chow also pointed that rapid test kits, which increased the cost of care were not specific or sensitive enough for diagnostic use.

On Health Minister Datuk Seri Liow Tiong Lai’s directive to private healthcare providers to raise the level of suspicion on the virus, Dr Chow said the Federation had advised members to treat all ILI as A(H1N1).

He said the federation was ready to work with the Ministry to fight the virus and take pre-emptive measures to decrease future fatalities.

Meanwhile, in Bukit Mertajam, IAN MCINTYRE reported patients refused treatment for flu symptoms at hospitals or clinics should inform the Penang state government.

The public can e-mail their complaints and views to state health, environment and caring society committee chairman Phee Boon Poh at pheeboonpoh@penang.gov.my.

On face masks, there should be amply supply in the market following the Federal Government’s move to make it a controlled item, said Phee before accompanying Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng on a house-to-house campaign at the Permatang Pasir by-election here yesterday.

He said a large consignment of masks were expected to arrive in Penang soon from Taiwan. - The Star

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