Saturday, August 22, 2009

MMA Explains Why Private Hospitals May Turn Away H1N1 Patients

KUALA LUMPUR, Aug 21 (Bernama) -- 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 Friday.

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. -- BERNAMA

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