Monday, July 02, 2007

MMA lauds law on labs

Star: PUTRAJAYA: The Malaysian Medical Association is glad that laws to control pathology labs in the country will soon be enforced following the passing of the Pathology Laboratory Bill in Parliament last week.
Its president Datuk Dr Teoh Siang Chin said the law, which MMA had wanted for the past 20 years, would stipulate the need for patients to get a comprehensive medical test by physicians and be given prescriptions for various tests provided at such pathology laboratories.
“Currently, the public can go to these private pathology labs to test anything they wanted checked without a physician’s prescription,” he said, adding that laboratory tests could only be accurately interpreted in the context of the history and physical findings of patients.
Advising everyone to have a family physician to constantly check on their health, Dr Teoh said the doctor familiar with the patient’s medical history was in the best position to interpret results.
“Some complaints by patients may be symptoms for bigger ailments which would not be traced just by going through medical tests at private labs without a doctor’s prescription,” he said, adding that this was why a control was needed on private pathology laboratories which are more profit-oriented.
Dr Teoh said private pathology laboratories had been sprouting vigorously over the last 10 years.
On the issue of doctors being used as proxies by businessmen to register clinics, Dr Teoh said doctors must be responsible and take charge of the clinic instead of only offering their names.
Doctors should also understand that the law stipulates that they would be prosecuted if the clinic engaged bogus doctors while the businessmen running the clinic would not be held responsible.
Federation of Private Medical Practitioners’ Association of Malaysia president Dr Steven Chow advised doctors involved with businessmen to ensure that the interest of patients would be first and foremost on their minds.
“If they have to choose between business interest and patients’ interest, their professional decision should always be for the welfare of the patients and not vice versa.
“If they are unable to exercise this decision, it is best that they distance themselves from such business-oriented arrangements,” he said, adding that the Health Ministry’s move to prosecute such doctors was good but hoped bona fide clinics could continue without undue harassment.
Dr Chow, however, said only a few independent practitioners were involved with businessmen, adding that most private clinics operated by businessman are those involving massive capital investments like high-end x-ray scanners and private laboratories offering clinic services.

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