Friday, August 24, 2007

Patients need right docs

Star: PUTRAJAYA: A specialist can treat a patient outside his specialty in an emergency, but subsequently he has to refer the patient to the right specialist, Health Minister Datuk Seri Dr Chua Soi Lek said yesterday.
Commenting on a recent case of a boy who died after being treated by a nephrologist for dengue and typhoid, Dr Chua said he was under treatment for almost two weeks without being referred to an infectious disease specialist or physician.
Specialists should not disappoint their patients as they put total trust in them, he said, adding that doctors had a moral and professional responsibility to refer patients to the right specialist.
Dr Chua was responding to doctors who had written to newspapers and argued that sub-specialists with their background training and experience in general medicine were qualified to treat most infectious diseases.
The Council of the Malaysian Society of Nephrology had said diseases did not always manifest in a specific compartmentalised manner that delineates which particular specialist should address it.
On Aug 9, Dr Chua said three cases of specialists giving treatment outside their field were reported to the ministry and the Malaysian Medical Council (MMC) recently, and that two of the patients had died.
Asked if MMC would take action against one of the specialists concerned, he said it was difficult for MMC to take any action because the specialist said he was trained to look after the patient.
“But if he was trained to look after kidney patients, why was he looking after an infectious disease case? Why was he keeping the patient to himself? MMC is looking into the case and the hospital has to come up with a better explanation,” he said.
Malaysian Medical Association president Datuk Dr Khoo Kah Lin said the association shared the opinions expressed by specialists in the press recently.
While doctors should treat patients as whole persons and not as isolated organ systems, it was not possible for specialists to keep up with the latest developments in fields other than their own, he said.
“In a patient who has many diseases involving several organs, we have to differentiate between patients who are acutely ill and those who have several chronic stable conditions.
“In the latter case, he should be seen by a general practitioner who knows the patient as a whole and follows up with the patient regularly and refers him back to relevant specialists when the condition is not well-controlled,” he said.
In the case of an acutely ill patient, there should be one main specialist taking care of the patient and other specialists called in for consultation according to changes in his condition, he said.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

AIDS awareness lacking

Star: COLOMBO: A survey among a small group of HIV+ widows who have remarried found that their uninfected husbands do not use condoms consistently when engaging in sex with them.
“The women said they always reminded their husbands to use a condom but they do not always use it because they dislike condoms, do not have one at hand, or want to have a child,” said Malaysian AIDS Foundation advisor Datin Paduka Marina Mahathir at the Eighth International Congress on HIV/AIDS (Icaap) here in Sri Lanka at a session on married women’s vulnerability towards HIV/AIDS.
At the conference, married monogamous women have been cited as an emerging group most vulnerable to HIV infection, and among the most silent sufferers of the epidemic.
Marina was citing a study that she carried out with University Malaya post-graduate student Sumathi Govindasamy of 56 HIV+ widows in Kota Baru, Kelantan, to explore the issues and challenges they face.
Out of those surveyed, six have remarried and their husbands know about their HIV+ status.
However, remarriage is not an option considered by most of the HIV+ women surveyed as they will have to disclose their HIV+ status to their intended husband, and they are not prepared to take that step.
“All of the women surveyed were infected by their late husbands, and 80% were married to injecting drug users. However, they continued having unsafe sex with their husbands even after learning about their injecting behaviour, said Marina.
“Some 53% of these women were still not sure if it was the drugs, or the act of injecting that caused the HIV infection. It was evident that basic knowledge on HIV transmission risk is low even now among these women,” she added.
Only 10% of those surveyed have ever used a condom, and it was usually for “experimental reasons” rather than for protection.
The rate of infection among women in Malaysia has gone up from 1.2% in 1990 to 9.4% in 2000.
At the Hospital Raja Perempuan Zainab in Kota Baru, eight or nine women are newly diagnosed with HIV every month, and most of them are infected through heterosexual sex.
Some of the remarried HIV+ women were concerned that their uninfected husbands might choose to take another wife without informing the intended co-wife of the first wife’s HIV+ status.
“Even with mandatory premarital testing, only the couple getting married will be tested,” reported Marina.
“There is a risk of HIV transmission from the HIV+ first wife to the husband to the second wife, especially if he continues to have sex with both women,” she said, adding that this indicated that mandatory premarital testing would not be effective in protecting people from HIV infection, especially in polygamous marriages.

Improper healthcare screening may give wrong impression

Star: PETALING JAYA: A proper healthcare screening must be related to a particular concern over a person's health condition or it could lead to high costs and unnecessary “panic” or “a false sense of confidence.”
“The first step is to simply not screen for no reason at all because it has very little medical basis,” Academy of Medicine College of Pathologists president Prof Dr Looi Lai Meng said.
She said this when asked to comment on Health Minister Datuk Seri Dr Chua Soi Lek’s statement that health screening by untrained individuals or at hotels or shopping centres was illegal.
She said that indiscriminate screening, unrelated to a health condition, could cause the individual to panic and end up with a “huge medical bill” if the results were not good.
Alternatively, if the results were good the person could have a false sense of confidence.
She added that a person should first visit his doctor who must determine which test was relevant for him.
Dr Looi also urged people not to take the risk of illegal testing that might done by untrained people or those using questionable methods.
She said the role of pathology labs was important because health-screening tests required the use of proper techniques and the expertise of trained pathologists.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

A first for Malaysian hospitals

NST: PETALING JAYA: The long queues for X-rays at Hospital Tengku Ampuan Rahimah (HTAR) in Klang will be reduced. And patients who are not mobile can even be X-rayed in bed, thanks to the portable X-ray scanner Canon Malaysia has donated to the hospital.
The company is celebrating 20 years in Malaysia and the 70th anniversary of the setting up of the global firm that produces high-tech imaging products.
Canon Marketing (Malaysia) Sdn Bhd president and chief executive officer Liew Sip Chon said the Canon CXDI-50C portable flat panel digital radiography system was the first to be installed in the country. With its speed and capacity, it reduces waiting time for X-rays.
"The diagnostic quality is also increased, allowing doctors to come up with the best medical solutions for patients’ ailments," he said.
Lightweight and portable at less than 5kg, the compact X-ray scanner can be used to capture detailed X-rays from virtually any position and angle.
Hospital director Dr Yahya Baba said the portable unit would improve the hospital’s delivery system.
"Our hospital is one of the busiest in the country, treating some 160,000 patients a year. The device will make it faster and easier for our radiographers and radiologists," he said.
Deputy Health Minister Datuk Dr Abdul Latiff Ahmad, who witnessed the handing over, said Canon’s gesture should be emulated because it increased the accessibility to quality health care.
The CXDI-50C, part of Canon’s CXDI digital radiography system first introduced in 2000, costs RM350,000 per unit. More than 6,000 units have been sold to hospitals worldwide.
Canon Opto Malaysia has invested RM800 million to aid technology transfer over the years. It has created 6,500 jobs here and 95 per cent of its workforce is Malaysian.

Dubious distinction for ‘doctor’

NST: PUTRAJAYA: Indian national Surinder Pal, 34, has the dubious distinction of being the first foreign bogus doctor to be convicted and jailed for abusing his work permit.
Surinder was charged at the Semenyih detention centre’s special Immigration court yesterday. He pleaded guilty and was sentenced to five months’ jail, commencing from the date of his arrest on Aug 11.
He was charged under Section 39(b) of the Immigration Regulations 1963 for contravening his employment pass. The offence carries a maximum penalty of a fine not exceeding RM1,000, or imprisonment not exceeding six months, or both.
Immigration authorities found that Surinder did not have any valid qualifications to be a doctor and that he was not registered with the Malay- sian Medical Association.
Immigration deputy assistant director Kasthuri Bai Venugopal, who was also the prosecuting officer, asked the court for a deterrent sentence given the seriousness of the offence and its implications on the public as he was an unqualified doctor.
Surinder was arrested while treating a patient at Klinik Amar, 13G Jalan Orkid 1A, Section BS2, Bukit Sentosa, Rawang, Selangor, at 7pm.
He had been issued an employment pass to work at Edaran Anggun Sdn Bhd, a company in Taman Selatan Klang, as a technical director.
Immigration officers found documents, including salary vouchers, which showed that Surinder had been on the clinic’s payroll since March, and was earning RM25 per hour.
Also arrested was a Malaysian man, believed to be the owner of the clinic.
Immigration enforcement director Datuk Ishak Mohamed said investigations on the local man were nearing completion and he would be charged soon with employing foreigners without approval.

Health labs to be monitored under Act

NST: PETALING JAYA: Some businessmen offering free medical tests at hotels or shopping complexes are in cahoots with doctors to make money from the public.
This is how it works. On handing over tests results to individuals, the businessmen recommend certain doctors.
But anyone insisting on going to his own doctor may see the withdrawal of test results on a host of complaints, including blood pressure and blood sugar.
The doctors in question usually offer patients a health package at their hospital at nothing less than RM400.
It is understood that the businessmen are given a "commission" for their services.
Health Minister Datuk Seri Dr Chua Soi Lek came across this recently when a person complained to him of free health screening with a catch.
He said it happened at a hotel in Malacca after an individual was handed the test results and then referred to a doctor at a private hospital for a check-up.
"When the man said he could not afford to go to a private hospital, the person conducting the free screening tore up the results and threw it in a dustbin.
"When I asked him why he did that, he said that the individual did not need the results as he was not going to the doctor being referred to," he added.
He got the name of the doctor and confronted him, only to be told that he had nothing to do with the matter.
Dr Chua said these shenanigans would soon be a thing of the past.
The Pathology Act that will come into force next year will see all such laboratories, including those in private hospitals, being monitored by the ministry.
"At present, anyone with a business licence can run a laboratory with people walking in and asking for tests to be done," he said after launching the 24th World Congress of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine here.
The laboratories will also have to be managed by either a doctor, a pathologist or a scientific officer, depending on tests conducted.
"Patients cannot walk in as they like and ask for tests to be conducted. They have to be referred by doctors."
Dr Chua said it was wrong to allow individuals to decide what they wanted to do after getting the results of the screening.
On hotels and shopping complexes used by the businessmen, he said they needed approval from the ministry for such activities.
He said they could be charged under the Private Healthcare Facilities and Services Act and fined RM300,000 or six years’ jail, or both, if found guilty.
Earlier at the function, Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak, whose speech was read by Dr Chua, said about 240 million pathology laboratory tests were done in Malaysia last year, working out to 650,000 tests a day.
He said 46 per cent of the tests were done in government hospitals, 10 per cent in university hospitals and the remaining 44 per cent in private laboratories.
He said Malaysia had always been mindful of the pathology’s practice standards, considering there were only 300 pathologists in the country.
"When we consider how important each test result is to patients, we can appreciate the importance of first-rate pathology laboratories."

Health screening at shopping centres illegal

Star: PETALING JAYA: Health screening and checks cannot be conducted at shopping centres and hotels.
Health Minister Datuk Seri Dr Chua Soi Lek said those who carried out such tests were doing so without the approval and support of the ministry.
“They are not recognised or endorsed by us. They are illegal,” he told reporters yesterday after representing Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak at the opening the 24th World Congress of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine here.
Dr Chua, who warned Malaysians against undergoing such checks at shopping centres and hotels, said there was an “unhealthy development” in which some untrained individuals were in cahoots with private hospitals to refer patients to the establishments for treatment after claiming that the tests showed they were at risk from certain illnesses.
Those who went for such tests would not get a correct interpretation of the results, he said.
Dr Chua cited an example where the people would get a telephone call informing them that they would get a free health screening. Basic tests such as measuring the weight, height and a urine check for glucose level are carried out.
“Then, they’ll say you have a risk of getting diabetes or high blood pressure and should be referred to a doctor and pay RM400. So, the doctor will get additional income and he will give a kickback to them,” he said.
An estimated 240 million pathology laboratory tests were carried out in Malaysia last year, which translates to 650,000 tests daily.
The cost for tests ranges from RM5 for a simple haemoglobin test to a few hundred ringgit, depending on the complexity.
The ministry had in the past two months received two written complaints on the matter, Dr Chua said, adding that in another incident, a woman sought his help after her test results were thrown away when she said she could not afford to go to the recommended private hospital.
He said the doctor involved, based in Kuala Lumpur, denied the allegations when questioned by ministry officers.
Dr Chua advised the public to go for health checks organised by the ministry or government hospitals.
The public can complain to the ministry’s private clinics complaint hotline at 03-8883-1484.
Dr Chua warned doctors that they could be referred to the Malaysian Medical Council if they were found to have committed such wrongdoings and cited for unprofessional conduct.
Action could also be taken against shopping centres and hotels under the Private Healthcare Facilities and Services Act 1998 for renting out their premises for such activities, he said.
Dr Chua said that under the Pathology Laboratory Act, patients could not just “walk into” pathology laboratories to be tested.
“It is wrong for the labs to do it. They can have packages but the patient should be referred by a doctor,” he said, adding that only a doctor would be able to diagnose and treat based on the results.
This, he said, was to prevent patients from “being their own doctor” by ordering and making a diagnosis.
He said that the Act also specified the type of tests the laboratory could conduct according to their licence while the person in charge would have to be either a doctor, pathologist or scientific officer.
The pathologists at the laboratory are only allowed to carry out tests which they are licensed for, he said.
Dr Chua said the ministry would also control the advertisements posted by the laboratories besides having a mechanism for the public to file complaints. A scheduled fee will also be enforced.
He said there were more enforcement officers in the field, totalling 100 now, adding that the ministry would seek to get more next year.

Ministry wants manufacturers to cut sugar content

Star: PETALING JAYA: The Health Ministry wants carbonated drink manufacturers to reduce the sugar content in their drinks from 15gm to 5gm per bottle.
Minister Datuk Seri Dr Chua Soi Lek said there had been discussions with multinational and local food and beverage manufacturing companies, and “initially, an agreement was reached by all parties”.
“The ones we are having problems with now are the beverage manufacturers.
“We want the drinks to not have more than 5gm of sugar, they only want to reduce it to 9.5gm,” he told the press at the launch of the books Fruitastic!, Fruitastic! Malaysia, and Vegemania! here yesterday.
He added that the ministry set up a technical committee earlier this year to go through the contents of food and beverages in Malaysia with the aim of reducing sugar, salt and fat content.
“We want to have a label called ‘Healthier Choice Food and Drinks’.
“If these companies don’t agree, we will drop drinks from the list of food considered as the healthier choice,” he said, adding he would meet them for the last time next week.
Dr Chua explained that the beverage manufacturers were reluctant to reduce sugar content as Malaysians have “a sweet tooth”.
“They are worried that if the sugar content is reduced too drastically, Malaysians may not want to drink carbonated drinks anymore.”
He also said that the average Malaysian consumed 125gm of sugar a day, when only 50gm was needed.
He said a survey conducted in 1996 found only 11% of Malaysians exercised and 20% of them were overweight, but a survey conducted in 2004 found that while 13% exercised and 37% of the population was overweight.
“If we are not careful, this will translate into a rise in diseases such as hypertension, high cholesterol levels and diabetes,” he said.
On the books authored by Mohana Gill, Dr Chua said the timing of the launch was “excellent”, as it was in line with the Government’s health promotion.
In her three books, Mohana describes the benefits of various fruits and vegetables, and also shares her personal recipes using these ingredients.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Seek advice, young docs told

Star: PETALING JAYA: Junior doctors need to change their attitude and ask questions from more experienced physicians when they are in doubt to ensure effective medical care is delivered.
In turn, those in senior positions, including specialists, should spend more time training junior doctors.
Health Ministry director-general Tan Sri Dr Ismail Merican said that junior physicians should know their limitations and ask for help.
“Don’t just simply do it,” he said in an interview with The Star.
“They do not open their mouths. They are either reluctant or very scared to interact with their senior colleagues. Maybe they are unsure when to ask for help.”
Senior doctors could also do their part by encouraging and motivating junior doctors to put aside the “fear culture” and ask them questions.
Another aspect of training junior doctors that needed to be looked at, he said, was how to ensure they gathered enough experience in treating patients.
He said greater effort needed to be put into teaching rounds and clinical case presentation by senior physicians and specialists such as having a “grand round” every week involving all doctors. He said while the practise was currently in place, more in-depth discussions were needed.
That was the best way to identify and discuss problems, although it was challenging to get all relevant parties to take part.
“Specialists must be reminded that their prime duty is to serve patients besides teaching house officers and young medical officers.”
Dr Ismail said Health Minister Datuk Seri Dr Chua Soi Lek and he were concerned about the training, experience and attitude of doctors and wanted to ensure the quality of service was further enhanced.
A clinical skills laboratory for practical training was being established at every government hospital in stages where doctors and nurses could increase their competence in handling procedures and make them more confident, he added.

Friday, August 17, 2007

Don’t try to self-cure erectile dysfunction

NST: KOTA BARU: Many Malaysians suffering from erectile dysfunction (ED) resort to short cuts by refilling their prescription instead of having follow-up consultations.
They do this either out of embarrassment or to save on consultation fees.
Consultant urologist Dr Peter Ng, however, warned that short cuts would not solve the problem.
The problem might recur because of dosage changes.
"Patients often go to the pharmacist, thinking that they can save money and time. They fail to realise that check-ups are important," he said after a lecture on male sexual dysfunction at the Sexual Health Conference here yesterday.
The two-day conference, attended by 200 medical practitioners, was organised by Universiti Sains Malaysia’s Family Medicine Association.
Dr Ng said patients often thought that their problem could be solved by taking drugs like Viagra.
Instead, he stressed that ED must be treated holistically, including counselling.
"Viagra is only half of the treatment. Doctors must examine the patient for heart disease, diabetes and high blood pressure, which contribute to ED."
He said self-treatment and buying medication from street pedlars, especially among the lower income group, was another worrying trend.
"If the medication is fake, they are not only wasting money but also poisoning themselves."
ED cases in Malaysia are also expected to rise because of unhealthy lifestyles, stress and other factors.
He quoted a study in Perlis, Kedah and Penang last year which showed that 48 per cent of the respondents as having some form of sexual dysfunction.
He said that the problem was not confined to the males as women, too, could be affected. The study indicated that 58 per cent of the women respondents experienced sexual dysfunction.
By 2025, 113 million people in Asia are expected to suffer from ED.
Meanwhile, USM family medicine specialist Associate Professor Dr Shaiful Bahari Ismail would be leading a three-year study on Tualang honey as the next miracle cure for ED.
"Locals, for generations, swear by honey to cure ED. We want to know if it does. We are still waiting for the study grant."
He chose Tualang honey over the many kinds of local honey found on the market as it was certified as pure by the Federal Agriculture Marketing Authority.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Why people turn to quacks

NST: KUALA LUMPUR: Claims of a sure cure is the main reason why many people, particularly those with chronic illness, go to quacks, according to several health experts.
Others go to them because they are cheap.
Deputy Health Minister Datuk Dr Abdul Latiff Ahmad said many people turn to quacks and bomoh because they were better listeners.
"They take time to listen to their clients’ problems and that is what many want.
"They are also good in convincing people into buying their products, claiming these can cure and do wonders," he added.
"People must realise they are endangering their lives and throwing away their money. If they are cured, it is good. But if they develop complications, then who is to blame?"
Dr Latiff advised the public to be cautious and if they came across anyone practising medicine illegally or had doubts about a practitioner, to inform the Health Ministry or the Malaysian Medical Council.
He was responding to the closure of 16 clinics and a small hospital practising traditional medicine because they were run by bogus doctors or novice housemen.
The latest bogus practitioner nabbed was a 63-year-old man who had been passing himself off as a dentist for 29 years. He was caught by health officers in Jinjang here.
In the treatment room located next to the kitchen of his flat was a dental chair, antibiotics, painkiller, syringes, bottles containing Chinese medicine and other items.
The man, who had never studied dentistry, said he used to assist an army dentist during visits to Felda settlements for which he was paid a daily wage of RM7. He said he learnt the trade by watching the dentist at work.
Kuala Lumpur Hospital’s head of Medicine Department, Datuk Dr Jeyaindran Sinnadurai said bogus doctors could make claims that they could cure diseases such as cancer, diabetes and heart ailments.
"People who are desperate for a cure fall for them without realising that they may be putting their lives at risk," he said.
He said if anyone had any doubts about the person whom they are seeking treatment from, they can go online to check whether he or she was a registered doctor.
A web portal set up by MMC — — will tell whether the doctors are registered with the Health Ministry, where they were trained, and where they practised.
The Health Ministry’s medical practice director, Dr Mohd Khairi Yakub, said some people seek the help of quacks after hearing good things.
"It’s time Malaysians read what is highlighted in the media about bogus doctors and quacks.
"The problem is that people do not read and they believe what other people say," he added.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Better way to manage blood

NST: CYBERJAYA: It is now possible to prevent human error in blood transfusions.
A system called BloodBank Manager promises to increase efficiency from donation to transfusion, thus protecting patients.
The joint venture by Siemens Malaysia and Intel Malaysia will be implemented soon. Pilot tests are being conducted at University Malaya Medical Centre, National Blood Bank and Penang Adventist Hospital.
The BloodBank Manager will reduce waiting time, errors and mismatches while improving the efficiency of internal processes, a statement read.
The system will ensure transparency and accountability through the logging, labelling and tracking of blood products using the radio frequency identification (RFID) technology, it added.
The RFID technology will enable efficient handling of blood bags by improving identification, inventory, logistics, lab system interfaces and introduce other processes to better manage blood banks.
"The BloodBank Manager is another breakthrough in the healthcare industry to further strengthen Malaysia’s position as the world-class player in quality health care," Siemens Malaysia president and chief executive officer Tan Sri Rainer Althoff said at a signing ceremony to seal the deal between the companies.
Althoff said the system may be introduced to hospitals around the region.
Deputy Health Minister Datuk Dr Abdul Latiff Ahmad commended the system, but said it was subject to Treasury approval for it to be adopted in government hospitals.
"We will not compromise on safety but at the moment we are satisfied with the system we have in place," he said, when asked whether the ministry would consider implementing the BloodBank Manager at government hospitals.
Over the years, there have been several cases where people donated blood which later tested positive for HIV and Hepatitis B.
In June last year, a RM28 million civil suit was filed by lawyer P. Paramanathan against a cardiologist and Pantai Medical Centre after the 46-year-old allegedly contracted Hepatitis C three months after a blood transfusion.

Trend reversal: 200 doctors return home

NST: KUALA LUMPUR: More than 200 Malaysians who studied medicine and practised abroad had returned to serve since 2005.
Some of these practitioners, who held government scholarships, have been working up to 20 years abroad.
Overseas Umno Club chairman Datuk Shafie Apdal said the country was facing a shortage of medical specialists.
"It was through visits and dialogue sessions initiated by the club that we were able to convince some about the opportunities here, especially since the government has built many hospitals equipped with modern facilities.
"Some are reluctant to come home because of concerns about promotion prospects and work-culture differences. They also worry about political instability, local facilities and training here."
Shafie, who is domestic trade and consumer affairs minister, said this after officiating the United Kingdom and Ireland Pre-Departure Briefing 2007 yesterday.
The briefing was held for 170 students who will pursue various courses in the two countries and six students who will leave for Cairo next month.
"We have a need for experts in various fields and that is why I stress the importance of preparing for future challenges."
To encourage their "growth", starting this year, medical students abroad are sent to rural areas in Malaysia during their semester breaks to conduct free medical check-ups and organise gotong-royong activities.
"These activities are meant to encourage and involve students in society. More importantly, we want them not to only excel in their studies but also create a sense of desire to return and serve the nation."
Earlier, Shafie advised the students to focus on their studies and ignore the postings about the country in blogs.
"Those who want to excel in their studies should be reading books and not blogs."
This is the first year the club, Higher Education Ministry and Tourism Ministry are working together to organise the pre-departure briefing.

'Dentist' nabbed after 29 years

NST: KUALA LUMPUR: He was a dentist for the last 29 years, but his career ended yesterday when he was nabbed by health officers.
The 63-year-old man never studied dentistry. The closest he came to the profession was between 1962 and 1978 when he would assist an army dentist by carrying his bag during visits to Felda settlements, for which he was paid a daily wage of RM7.
"I watched the doctor diagnose and treat problems with teeth. I also saw how he would extract teeth and make models and measurements for dentures to replace missing teeth," he said when he was arrested for practising dentistry illegally at his flat in Taman Jinjang Baru, Jinjang, here.
His treatment room, equipped with a dental chair and other paraphernalia, is located next to the kitchen of the ground floor unit.
"I also make house visits," he said.
The raiding party, which was acting on a tip-off, comprised officers of the Health Ministry and Federal Territory Health Department as well as men from Jinjang police.
Among the items seized from the premises were antibiotics, painkillers, syringes and bottles containing Chinese medicine.
One of the neighbours said she had always thought that the man was a retired army dentist.
"That is what he made us believe," said the neighbour, who declined to give her name.
According to her, many people had sought treatment from him and from what she heard, he charged RM20 for extraction and more than RM100 for dentures.
The man remained calm during the raid and the subsequent interrogation.
He said he made dentures for RM130 and that most of his clients paid the money in instalments.
"There are some who never pay me and they threaten me when I ask them for money," he said.
Asked why he did not seek work as a dentist’s assistant, he said: "I did inquire, but they said I am too old."
To another question, he said he got the dental chair in 1978 when the army wanted to throw it away.
"I took it and modified it," he said, adding that the chair was more than 60 years old and was an antique.
It took more than six men to carry it out of the flat.
The Health Ministry’s medical practice director Dr Mohd Khairi Yakub said the bogus dentist would be charged under the Private Healthcare Facilities and Services Act, where he is liable to a fine of up to RM300,000 or a maximum six years’ jail or both upon conviction.
He said there could be more people passing off as dentists.
"But it will not be long before we catch up with them," he added.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Kindness opens his eyes to sign up as organ donor

NST: GEORGE TOWN: Kang Joo Lye @ Kang Hock Lye was seriously ill with stomach ulcers and his sight was poor because of cataracts.
A good Samaritan paid for his eye surgery in June, and it was a combination of happiness and "sorrow" that made him decide to become an organ donor.
"After seven years of pain, I finally went to the Penang Hospital two years ago. The doctor told me that I had two ulcers in my stomach, which caused me to lose hope. I thought I might die.
"When a kind woman paid for my eye surgery this year, it touched my heart so deeply that I decided to donate my organs. They will be of no use to me when I am gone," he said.
But Kang’s joy after signing up at the end of last month was short-lived. His wife and children objected.
They were upset that he had done so without consulting them.
"My wife did not speak to me for a week, and my children were wondering why I didn’t inform them first.
"But after I explained everything to my wife, she decided to become an organ donor herself.
"She will also be pledging her organs soon," said the 64-year-old at a news conference at Penang Hospital yesterday.
Also present were members of Sungai Pinang assemblyman Looi Swee Cheang’s service team and Penang Hospital medicine department head Datuk Dr Rozina Ghazalli.
Looi and seven members of his service team, as well as four reporters, also registered as organ donors yesterday.
Dr Rozina said more people should emulate Kang as the number of donors in Penang had been dropping over the years. It is now in third place, after Selangor and Johor.
She said that since 1997, about 17,700 people in Penang have pledged their organs, a small number considering that the state has a population of about 1.3 million.
Dr Rozina, a consultant nephrologist, said there were about 106,000 registered organ donors nationwide.
Some 61.8 per cent are Chinese, followed by Indians and Malays.
She added that there were many misconceptions about organ donation and urged more people to pledge their organs.
"We are sorely lacking in organ donors. As a result, those who suffer from problems such as heart failure die because they cannot get a heart transplant," she said.

Ambulances ‘can’t handle terrain’

Star: TANAH RATA: The RM112mil Cameron Highlands Hospital that opened in January may have impressive facilities but has had to borrow ambulances because the ones it has cannot handle the hilly terrain.
The hospital has been borrowing two ambulances from hospitals in Kuala Lipis and Temerloh after staff realised that the three new ones, sent by the Health Ministry’s engineering division, could not handle the highlands’ hilly terrain.
Health Minister Datuk Seri Dr Chua Soi Lek, who visited the hospital yesterday, expressed surprise and said the ambulances had to be modified to handle the terrain.
“We will look into this. These ambulances are suitable for use in towns and rural areas, but the nature of Cameron Highlands’ terrain is such that they cannot be used here.”
A fully-equipped ambulance, he added, cost about RM300,000 but more needed to be spent to modify it.
On another matter, Dr Chua said there was a need to set up a haemodialysis centre in Cameron Highlands, adding that the ministry would look into the funds and personnel needed.
The hospital’s director, Dr Mahanim Md Yusof, said they currently had six kidney patients who travel to Kuantan Hospital, Tapah Hospital or Ipoh Hospital for dialysis treatments.

Monday, August 13, 2007

Director held for playing doctor

NST: PUTRAJAYA: According to his work permit, the Indian national is a technical director with a Klang-based company.
The man was arrested on Saturday by the Immigration Department as he was treating a patient in a Bukit Sentosa clinic in Rawang.
The department raided the clinic about 7pm after receiving several tip-offs. They caught the "doctor" red-handed treating a Nepalese factory worker.
Also arrested was a Malaysian man, believed to be a doctor and the owner of the clinic, Immigration enforcement chief Datuk Ishak Mohamed said.
Both men are in their late 30s.
Ishak said the Indian national had a work permit as a technical director for a company called Syarikat Edaran Anggun.
Documents, photographs and salary vouchers seized from the clinic showed that the foreigner had been on the clinic’s payroll since March this year and was paid RM25 per hour.
The Malaysian man’s passport was seized and he was freed on police bail.
The man told Immigration officers that the foreigner was only asked to stand in as a locum for him while he attended to other appointments.
Ishak said the foreigner had abused his work permit and was being held pending investigations, adding that he would refer the matter to the Health Ministry and the Malaysian Medical Association for action to be taken against the Malaysian.
Investigations are scheduled to be completed in two weeks, after which the department hopes to charge both men jointly.
The foreigner will be charged with abusing his work permit, while the Malaysian will be charged with employing foreign workers without approval, said Ishak.

Premature baby may lose her hand

NST: KLANG: Doctors may not amputate the arm of three-week-old baby Lai Yok Shan, instead the dead part may just be left to dry up and fall off on its own.
This process may take up to two months and is expected to be less demanding on the premature baby than an amputation.
Surgeon Dr V. Pathmanathan of Selayang Hospital said based on her current condition, the tissues below her left elbow were still alive and it looked like she might not lose the arm.
"It may probably be only the wrist," he said.
He told reporters this after accompanying Health Minister Datuk Seri Dr Chua Soi Lek to visit the baby at the Tengku Ampuan Rahimah Hospital here yesterday.
The baby is reported to be the victim of a botched job by a doctor at the hospital.
It is alleged that the doctor, who was trying to give her an antibiotic intravenously, inserted the needle into muscles and tissues instead of a blood vessel in the arm.
Dr Chua said the baby’s condition had improved.
He said the committee set up to investigate the case met for the first time yesterday and it had been given about three weeks to finalise its report.
The committee, headed by the Selangor health director, included paediatricians from public and private hospitals. Pandamaran state assemblyman Datuk Dr Teh Kim Poo is also in the committee.
Dr Chua said the doctor who administered the injection to the baby had been placed in a different section of the hospital.

Therapy offers comfort, focus to those in need

NST: KUALA LUMPUR: Wong Lee Foong would lie on her back most of the time with a blank look on her face.
That all changed about a year ago when she was given a tankful of fish.
Lee Foong, 22, who has cerebral palsy and is unable to work, sit or talk, now smiles and giggles when she sees the antics of the parrot fish.
Her mother, Roxanna Lim, said she had been at her wits’ end trying to get her daughter to smile.
The change in Lee Foong’s demeanour came about after her participation in an animal-assisted therapy (AAT) programme arranged by the Malaysian Animal-Assisted Therapy for the Disabled and Elderly Association (PetPositive).
As part of Lee Foong’s therapy, PetPositive organised an outing for mother and daughter last November to a pet shop to choose their fish.
They initially opted for goldfish due to its large size and grace. However, the fish died a few weeks later.
"Lee Foong was so sad when they died. We even named the fishes. Later, the pet store workers told us that goldfish is hard for beginners to rear and recommended the parrot fish instead."
She said her daughter’s demeanour had improved since the fish took pride of place in an aquarium next to her bed.
"She’s happier. She smiles and laughs more. She giggles whenever I feed the fish. She knows the fish belong to her and she’s proud of them.
"These improvements, although minute to normal people, are milestones to me. Her laughter and giggles are music to my ears," Lim said.
Another person who benefited from AAT is Lee Pei Sun, 29, who said she looked forward to the weekly visit by dogs to the Beautiful Gate Foundation for the Disabled.
Lee, who suffered from spinocerebellar ataxia, said the dogs’ antics made her forget about the problems and her condition.
Spinocerebellar ataxia is a disorder characterised by slowly progressive inco-ordination of gait and is often associated with poor co-ordination of hand, speech and eye movements.
"I’ve always loved dogs and when I was little, I would hug my dog for comfort whenever I was upset with my mother. Now, the weekly visits by the dogs give me something to look forward to," Lee said.
Tommy Leong, who has celebral palsy, said the dogs’ presence gave him a sense of comfort.
He said previously he had difficulties expressing himself, but the visits by the dogs had led to an improvement in his communication skills and made him more open.
Beautiful Gate executive director Sia Siew Chin said the residents were initially afraid of the dogs’ exuberance.
"Maybe they were not used to the presence of dogs. But they slowly opened up and I can see a relationship developing between the dogs and the residents," she said, adding that some introvert residents had become more sociable due to the dogs’ influence.
Students Chan Chun Seng, 13, and Wong Kang Min, 15, who are in a youth rehabilitation centre, said the monthly visits of the dogs had made them less rebellious.
"I was admitted to the Victory Home three weeks ago because I was caught fighting with the boys at school. At least with the dogs, I could have mock fights with them and this allows me to release my tension," Chan said.
Victory Home general superintendent Philip Mok said the children looked forward to the dogs’ visits.

Healing touch of animal friends

NST: Dogs, cats and pet fish are being used to help the elderly, sick and disabled under an animal-assisted therapy programme. EILEEN NG writes about this little known feel-good remedy and how it has brought back the smiles for some people.

KUALA LUMPUR: Amber-Mae is no ordinary dog.
With a wag of her tail and a lick, this 18-month-old Golden Retriever can give a lift to the sick and depressed.
Amber-Mae and many of her furry friends are helping people in need of their feel-good powers.
They are involved in animal-assisted therapy (AAT) to spread cheer and speed up healing among the elderly, sick, disabled and even juvenile delinquents.
The therapy is used to improve patients’ physical, emotional and social well-being and motivate them to get well.
While AAT is commonly practised in the West, it is only starting to make its presence felt in Malaysia.
Currently, only dogs are being used, although some proponents said other animals, such as cats, birds, lizards, hamsters, rabbits and even fish can also do the job.
The dogs, together with their owners and handlers, usually go to old folk’s homes, youth centres and private homes and spend one to three hours a week with the residents.
Malaysian Animal-Assisted Therapy for the Disabled and Elderly Association (Petpositive) president Anthony Thanasayan said animals worked wonders in improving physical and emotional well-being.
He said while AAT was not a quick fix to solve all their ailments, the human-animal bonding helped to alleviate patients’ distress.
"Animals accept anyone unconditionally and this is a wonderful feeling, especially for a disabled who wants to be accepted as normal," he said.
He said the disabled, elderly and the sick were more prone to depression and negative thoughts, and the presence of animals would help dispel that.
He said animals engaged in AAT must be neutered, sociable, outgoing, friendly and not fearful of sudden moves.
"We must also take into account the level of disability, for example, a bedridden person would not be able to handle dogs, so fish may be more suitable."
Furry Friends Farm founder Sabrina Yeap, who runs an AAT programme called Dr Dog (Malaysia chapter), said AAT helped relieve loneliness and encouraged people to open up.
"People who refuse to speak or those with physical disabilities will be more willing to touch a dog than respond to a person. This helps them to move their muscles and improve their verbal and co-ordination skills."
She said there were some who were afraid of dogs, but the fear faded when they saw how their friends benefited from AAT.
Two mongrels from Dr Dog are visiting inmates at an old folk’s home and a youth rehabilitation centre.
The Lions Kuala Lumpur Bangsar is also into AAT.
Club president Dhyana Low said five members and their dogs made weekly visits to the Beautiful Gate Foundation for the Disabled for the residents to stroke and hug the dogs.
"It’s wonderful to see the residents open up to the dogs. It’s a feeling that money can’t buy."

Saturday, August 11, 2007

Futile wait for donor lungs

NST: KUALA LUMPUR: C. Mariyaee and Efarizan Shah Malek. Remember their names well. They were lung disease patients on the transplant waiting list who passed away on Thursday and yesterday respectively, because of the lack of organ donors.
It is likely that they could have survived had the relatives of those who had just died, or were brain dead, allowed the lungs to be harvested for transplants.
The same could have been expected for the 10 others on the list who have died since 2003.
Efarizan, 30, had appealed publicly for a donor but no one came to help her.
The lungs of many who perished daily in accidents or from terminal illnesses could have saved her life.
But it was not to be for Efarizan, who died at the Putrajaya Hospital of a rare lung condition called lymphangioleiomyomatosis or LAM.
The Institut Baitumal officer left behind a 11-month-old son, Danish Qayyim El-Fadzrul, who will never get to know his mother.
Right up to the end, she had harboured hopes of hospital authorities identifying a donor so that she could raise her infant son.
However, the muscle cells that invaded the tissues of her lungs, eventually blocked off the flow of oxygen to the rest of the body.
Efarizan’s case was almost similar to that of C. Mariyaee, 45, who succumbed last Thursday to idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis, which ravaged her lungs.
The housewife from Selayang fervently prayed for a donor until her last days but to no avail.
There are 10 patients now on the lung transplant list. This number is expected to rise to 15 by the end of the year.
Do not let them wait needlessly and share the fate of Efarizan or Mariyaee.
Right now, they have a very good chance of surviving if lungs are available soon for transplant.
Institute of Respiratory Medicine (IPR) Kuala Lumpur consultant respiratory physician Dr Azhari Yunus said some on the list had waited for more than three years for a donor.
“Ten have died since 2003, and if no donors come, I don’t know what the fate of those on the waiting list will be. I appeal to Malaysians to please donate the organs of their next of kin who are brain dead.
“This good deed will surely save the lives of those on the waiting list.”
He said many with chronic lung diseases and lung problems were seeking help at the IPR because of awareness created by the media.
“Controlling and preventing lung disease needs everybody’s attention. Recognise the symptoms of lung disease and get immediate medical attention,” he said.
He advised smokers to quit smoking, which was the best protection for the lungs.
“Those who have a chronic cough, shortness of breath and other ailments of the lungs should seek immediate medical help.”
Dr Azhari said lung problems developed from the inhalation of second-hand cigarette smoke, air pollution and hazards at work.

Friday, August 10, 2007

Ministry to probe into case of baby facing amputation

NST: KUALA LUMPUR: The Health Ministry has set up a committee to investigate the case of an 18-day-old girl who may lose her left arm following a botched attempt to give her an intravenous drip.
The committee, to be headed by the Selangor health director, will comprise paediatricians from public and private hospitals. Pandamaran state assemblyman Datuk Dr Teh Kim Poo will also be invited to join the committee.
Announcing this yesterday, Health Minister Datuk Seri Dr Chua Soi Lek said the doctor attending to the girl would face "disciplinary or other action" if he was found to have been negligent.
He said the committee was expected to wrap up its work in two to three weeks.
Dr Chua was speaking after opening the KL International Breast and Colorectal Cancer Congress at the Kuala Lumpur Convention Centre.
It was reported that the baby was in critical condition as she was suffering from a blood infection.
When her condition deteriorated, doctors decided to give her a dose of antibiotics which could only be administered intravenously.
A doctor at the Tengku Ampuan Rahimah Hospital in Klang is believed to have mistakenly inserted an intravenous drip needle into the baby’s muscle and tissue instead of a blood vessel last Friday.
The director of the hospital, Dr Yahya Baba, on Wednesday said initial investigations showed that the doctor had made a mistake.

Dr Chua said there had been a rise in the number of complaints lodged with the Malaysian Medical Council (MMC) on unethical practices by medical experts at private hospitals.
A major cause for concern is specialists who administered treatment beyond their area of expertise.
He cited three cases: A nephrologist who provided treatment for a patient who had the early stages of dengue and typhoid; another nephrologist who treated a patient with an auto-immune disease; and, a urologist who treated a bleeding ulcer.
The patient with the bleeding ulcer and the patient with dengue and typhoid died.
"Maybe this happens because of intense competition in the private sector. Or because people are deciding which specialist they should see ... the specialists should have referred the cases to the right medical experts," said Dr Chua.
In the two cases which resulted in deaths, the ministry had advised the families to sue the doctors responsible, he added.
Another complaint was that specialists were using untrained staff to conduct simple and free tests. After conducting the tests, they then referred the patients for follow-up treatment with certain specialists at private hospitals.
Untrained staff had been found conducting blood tests, taking blood pressure and measuring height and weight.
"There was one who told a patient she was fat and probably suffered from heart disease and should be referred to a particular cardiologist," Dr Chua said, recalling a woman who had complained to him two weeks ago.
"As she could not afford to seek treatment from the particular cardiologist at the private hospital, her test results were withheld."
Dr Chua said he went to the centre where the woman had the tests. He later reported it to the ministry’s medical practices division, which raided the place, but by then, the staff could not be found.

Hospital, 16 clinics closed down for hiring unqualified as doctors

NST: KUALA LUMPUR: Two private clinics that employed government hospital housemen with only two months experience, were among 16 clinics and a hospital sealed by the Health Ministry in the last 15 months.
"How can private clinics employ housemen with only two months experience to treat patients?
"They are not qualified to be on their own," said Director-General of Health Tan Sri Dr Ismail Merican.
"These housemen and unregistered doctors can endanger the lives of people," he said.
The 16 clinics — six in Selangor, four in Johor, two in Kuala Lumpur and one each in Kedah, Negri Sembilan, Perak and Sarawak and the hospital in Penang — were sealed under the Private Healthcare Facilities and Services Act.
Dr Ismail said most of the clinics and the hospital, which dispensed traditional cures, were sealed after it was found to be run by people masquerading as doctors.
Among those who masqueraded as doctors were estate hospital and army hospital assistants, nurses, practitioners of traditional medicine and foreigners.
The ministry took the owner of a building in Shah Alam to court early this year for allowing a traditional medical practitioner to operate on the premises.
The owner is liable to a maximum fine of RM300,000 or six years’ jail, or both upon conviction.
It was reported in October last year that the practitioner removed kidney stones, tumours, ovarian cysts and other diseased body parts from patients.
He had been running the clinic for more than 10 years.
Acting on a complaint, Selangor health officers went to the clinic on Sept 27 last year and saw the "doctor" attending to patients in a hospital setting, surrounded by equipment, models of the human skeleton, posters and medical books.
He had charged his patients between RM350 and RM4,000.
He also offered traditional cures.
Dr Ismail said a 60-bed hospital, which provided traditional treatment in Penang was sealed on Aug 3.
During the raid, 20 patients were in the hospital with many waiting to be treated for diabetes.
"They were given so-called traditional medications and medicines.
"However, when the ministry conducted tests on these medicines they were found to contain scheduled drugs," he added.

Crack down on docs who treat beyond their field

Star: KUALA LUMPUR: Some private medical specialists have been treating patients outside their field, and in two such cases, the patients died.
The Health Minister wants the guilty doctors to be publicly named.
While the Malaysian Medical Council (MMC) investigated such cases, Health Minister Datuk Seri Dr Chua Soi Lek also wanted the MMC to make public the names of those guilty, as he believes that what doctors fear most is the “shame factor”.
“For doctors, it is all about branding. And I encourage the MMC to publish their names. If you fine them RM100,000, some doctors would not have any problems paying up in cash,” he said yesterday.
He added that amendments to the Medical Act, 1971 would make it compulsory to have specialists register according to their field, making it easier for the ministry to track down doctors carrying out the unethical practice.
“This unethical behaviour has to stop. It is marring the good name of the profession and public confidence,” he said after opening the 1st KL International Breast and Colorectal Cancer Congress.
He said three cases were reported to the ministry and MMC recently of such specialists having treated outside their field, resulting in the death of two patients.
One case, he said, was a nephrologist who had treated a patient diagnosed with dengue and typhoid.
Another was a neurologist treating a patient who had a bleeding gastric ulcer while another nephrologist treated a patient diagnosed with an autoimmune disease.
Dr Chua attributed the unethical practice to the fact that doctors in the private sector were facing stiff competition and also because Malaysians who sought treatment without referral from a general practitioner went to a physician they thought was “the most qualified”.
“If it is not their speciality, doctors should refer the patient to the relevant specialist, but this did not happen. They treated them until complications happened.”
“We have advised the family to sue the doctor concerned,” said Dr Chua.
Another unethical practice, he said, was specialists who engaged unqualified individuals to carry out medical tests, such as for blood glucose levels and blood pressure.

Prescription drugs used in ‘traditional treatment’

Star: PETALING JAYA: Twenty patients who sought traditional treatment from a private hospital in Penang were fooled into believing that the medication they received was authentic when, in fact, they were given prescriptions drugs.
A raid conducted by Health Ministry enforcement officers on the facility, last Friday, revealed that the majority of patients who were receiving traditional treatment for diabetes, were actually being given the drugs.
The nationwide raids on all private healthcare facilities is aimed primarily at weeding out “quack” doctors.
The ministry raided 17 private medical facilities in the last two weeks and more than 20 clinics in the past two months.
Ministry director-general Tan Sri Dr Ismail Merican, in a press statement yesterday, said action would be taken against the offenders, and that the ministry would continue to crack down on such facilities.
“The main offences include facilities being run by unlicensed doctors, traditional healers, foreigners, nurses acting on behalf of doctors and so forth,” he said.
He added that such practitioners were usually employed by 24-hour clinics.

e-guarantee system begins in five hospitals

Star: SEREMBAN: Five hospitals in the Klang Valley have introduced the e-GL (electronic guarantee letter) facility for civil servants from Aug 1.
This means sick civil servants in the Klang Valley will no longer have to go to their workplace first to get guarantee letters and then return to the hospital for treatment and admission.
The guarantee letter will now be available on-line under the Human Resources Management Information System (HRMIS) introduced by the Public Services Department.
The five hospitals are the Putrajaya Hospital, Ampang Hospital, Sungai Buloh Hospital, Selayang Hospital and Serdang Hospital.
Public Services director-general Tan Sri Ismail Adam said the HRMIS was part of the Government’s efforts to improve the public delivery service and the management of its human resources.
When contacted, Cuepacs president Omar Osman said the new system would allow sick employees to get treatment faster.
“Under the old system, sick employees would have to get the guarantee letter from their office and only then get to the hospital. Imagine the hassle a sick person has to go through,” he said.

Government Expects Higher Demand For Cancer Treatment

KUALA LUMPUR, Aug 9 (Bernama) -- The government foresees higher demand for cancer treatment and supportive care in the years ahead, Health Minister Datuk Seri Dr Chua Soi Lek said Thursday.
He said cancer cases are rising steadily and health-conscious Malaysians are becoming more aware of the killer ailment and treatment available to them.
"I am pleased to say the government has been giving and will continue to provide a great deal of emphasis, encouragement and support to the expansion and upgrading of medical services for cancer," he said when opening the First Kuala Lumpur International Breast and Colorectal Cancer Congress.
He said the country's first 252-bed National Cancer Institute, to be built in Putrajaya, was at advanced stage of planning and would get off the ground soon.
According to the 2002 First National Cancer Registry Report, Dr Chua said there are about 40,000 new cancer cases every year and one in four Malaysians risks the chance of contracting cancer in his or her life-time.
The report also noted that Malaysia has the world's highest rate of throat cancer for females and second highest rate for the same cancer among males.
Malaysian Indians also have the highest rate of laryngeal cancer (lump in the neck) in Asia.
According to the 2003 Second National Cancer Registry Report, colorectal cancer accounted for 14.2 per cent of male cancers, topped the list of male cancers, followed by lung (13.8 per cent) and throat (8.8 per cent).
In Malaysian women, colorectal cancer comes in third (10.1 per cent) after breast (31 per cent) and cervical cancer (12.9 per cent).
With the growing cancer burden, he said, the nation would be focusing on development, implementation and monitoring of cancer-control programmes, covering primary prevention, early detection, diagnosis, treatment and palliative care facilities.

Thursday, August 09, 2007

Baby may lose arm due to doctor's error

NST: KLANG: An 18-day-old baby is in danger of losing her left arm. It is believed it may be due to a mistake of a doctor inserting an intravenous drip needle last Friday.
The arm of Lai Yok Shan has turned black and doctors at the Tengku Ampuan Rahimah Hospital are doubtful it can be saved.
The baby is also in critical condition as she is suffering from a blood infection which her immune system is struggling to fight off because she was born premature after only seven months.
Due to her fragile condition, doctors placed her in an incubator and on a ventilator.
When her condition deteriorated, doctors decided to give her strong antibiotics which could only be administered intravenously.
It is learnt that the doctor had difficulty finding a blood vessel in the baby’s tiny arm. He is believed to have mistakenly inserted the needle into a muscle and tissue.
Yok Shan’s father, Lai Kian Khee, 24, said the hospital had called him on Friday to say that her condition was serious.
He claimed that there seemed to have been several attempts to insert the needle in his daughter’s wrists judging from at least five visible puncture marks there.
"When I saw her, she was crying and seemed to be in pain. Her arm had also turned white. The next day it was black."
Lai said he was told by hospital authorities that a mistake had happened and that her arm was "dying".
Hospital director Dr Yahya Baba said initial investigations showed that the doctor had made a mistake.
"I have apologised to the family on behalf of the hospital. This should not have happened and we will ensure that it does not happen again."
He said a report had been sent to the Health Ministry, adding that any decision against the doctor could only be taken by the ministry.
Dr Yahya said compensation to Yok Shan’s family would also be decided by the ministry.
Lai said he and his Thai wife, Nut Tuemthony, 27, were deeply distressed.
"Is admitting their mistake and saying sorry enough? My girl is going to lose her arm."
Lai said he was thinking of taking legal action against the hospital, despite Dr Yahya’s assurances that the Health Ministry would offer them compensation.
"I am thinking of doing so as I don’t want this to happen again. The people responsible for this must be held accountable."

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

200,000 silent spine disease sufferers

NST: KUALA LUMPUR: Often called the neglected disease, scoliosis affects more than 200,000 Malay-sians.
It’s a condition which causes the spine to curve to the left or right, making it resemble an S or C. Some 80 per cent of sufferers are female. Untreated, scoliosis may lead to permanent damage of the spine and disability.
"Early diagnosis and treatment helps to prevent curve progression and deformity," said Hospital Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia (HUKM) director Professor Datuk Dr Mohamed Abdul Razak.
"Children with scoliosis can lead normal lives and have the same lifespan as other healthy people," said the orthopaedic surgeon who specialises in spinal surgery at a press conference yesterday.
He said scoliosis patients have difficulty walking and doing normal daily activities. They also suffer psychologically because of low self-esteem and embarrassment brought on by the deformity.
Treating scoliosis used to be a costly affair. Dr Mohamed said the implants alone — be it a screw, clip, rod or plate — could cost up to RM40,000. This excluded the cost of surgery and hospitalisation.
"A major problem we faced was the cost of the foreign-made implants. People couldn’t afford them even if we waived surgery fees."
Fortunately, Dr Mohamed revealed that locally made implants were now available. HUKM has roped in a local medical technology company called Delphax to design and manufacture implants for scoliosis surgery.
The implants are made of titanium steel and are said to be just as good as the imported ones. But they only cost RM15,000.
"The local implant is also customised to suit the smaller Asian build, compared with the ones from America."
Dr Mohamed who came up with the idea for establishing Yayasan Scoliosis Malaysia (Yasim) said the non-governmental organisation aimed to educate Malaysians about scoliosis — its effects and how it could be treated.
"We want to teach teachers and nurses to be able to detect scoliosis in children," he added.
Yasim, which will be officially launched next month, will help patients who need financial and/or emotional assistance.
There will also be a Scoliosis Awareness Week and leaflets on the disease will be distributed nationwide.
Delphax donated RM100,000 worth of implants last year to HUKM, enabling eight operations to be carried out.
Delphax managing director Azman Jufri said the implant, which functions as a supporting structure for the spine, could also be used for people suffering from backaches and other spine-related problems.
"We are currently working on getting approval from the US Food and Drug Administration," said Azman.

Check on spinal problems

Star: KUALA LUMPUR: A body will be set up for the early detection of scoliolis, especially among schoolchildren, and to provide financial aid to those who cannot afford surgery to correct spinal deformities.
With Yayasan Scoliolis Malaysia (Yasim), it is hoped that early detection of scoliolis can be made.
Scociolis is a condition where the spine curves like an “S” or “C”, which is noticeable to others and uncomfortable for the patients.
Hospital Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia (HUKM) director Prof Datuk Dr Mohamad Abdul Razak said Scoliolis affects mainly girls aged between 10 and 19.
He said many were affected by the disease but could not afford the treatment.
“With Yasim, we will be able to approach schools in Kuala Lumpur first, to check the schoolchildren and we can also teach the teachers to detect Scoliolis,” he said.
Dr Mohamad, who is an orthopaedic (spinal) surgeon, said early detection could lead to full recovery with low cost.
“Many seek treatment when it is too late and are left with only 50% rate of success to correct spinal deformities,” he told reporters after announcing the setting up of Yasim.
About 260,000 Malaysians could be suffering from the disease.
For the past 10 years, HUKM had performed some 500 corrective surgeries with an average of 100 patients seeking treatment from the hospital every year.
For those who are interested to join Yasim, contact the director’s office in HUKM.

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

List of registered docs available at website

Star: KUALA LUMPUR: The public can now check the Malaysian Medical Council (MMC) website to find out if a doctor is a registered practitioner.
MMC president Tan Sri Dr Ismail Merican said Malaysians could go to to find out if the doctor was registered with the council.
The website also lists nine ethical guidelines, including those on ethical implications for doctors in conflict situations, brain death, medical records and medical reports, dissemination of information by the medical profession and organ transplantation.
“The website is a check-and- balance to ensure our people are getting treated by those registered with the MMC. It was difficult in the past, but now they can do it,” he said yesterday after the launch.
Dr Ismail, who is also Health Ministry director-general, added that doctors also did not have the excuse to delay or not register for their annual practising certificate (APC) with the MMC.
Doctors need an APC to practise in the country and online payment for the annual RM50 fee can be done by November through the portal.
“Now there is no excuse for doctors to say they are late or that they never heard from the MMC. It is online now and we will inform them when we receive the application and payment,” he said.
There are 17,797 doctors with APCs while 307 foreign practitioners have been given temporary certificates which allow them to practise while undergoing postgraduate training or attachment in specific places.
However, Dr Ismail warned deans of medical faculties to be careful when hiring such doctors to be lecturers.

Sunday, August 05, 2007

Putrajaya Hospital to provide acupuncture, ayurvedic treatments soon

Star: PUTRAJAYA: Acupuncture, ayurvedic medicine, massage and herbal treatment will be some of the traditional and complementary medicine to be introduced at Putrajaya Hospital later this year.
Hospital director Dr Mohd Norzi Ghazali said patients checking in at the hospital would be able to opt for such treatments when the services are launched.
“Acupuncture experts from China and other countries will be employed on a contractual basis,” he said.
He was speaking to reporters recently after receiving RM400,000 from Tourism Minister Datuk Seri Tengku Adnan Tengku Mansor.
The money will be used to construct new offices for the specialists, expand the existing car park for both visitors and hospital staff, and constructing a covered walkway for pedestrians.
Dr Mohd Norzi said Putrajaya Hospital would be one of the first few medical facilities in the country to offer these treatments besides Kepala Batas Hospital and Pandan Hospital in Johor Baru.
The hospital also implemented the “full-paying patient” concept from Wednesday, making it and Selayang Hospital the first public hospitals to do so.
The service provides patients with the option of being treated by specialists of their choice in an executive or first-class facility and be charged accordingly.
“The full-paying patient concept will provide a boost to our hospital, particularly in the field of medical tourism. We have set aside a special ward in our hospital for these patients,” he said.
He added that over the past year, the number of patients seeking treatment from the hospital had increased by 6%.
“The number of surgeries performed have also risen by 50%,” he said,
Tengku Adnan, who is also Putrajaya MP, said in his speech that he would be asking for allocations for a new community clinic to be built in the federal administrative centre, as the current one was too crowded.
“Of some 900 patients seeking treatment from our community clinic, about 80% of them are not staying in Putrajaya but are from surrounding areas like Banting, Dengkil and Puchong,” he said.

Friday, August 03, 2007

Stop blaming others for dengue, says Chua

NST: PASIR PUTIH: People who complain about the dengue menace but do little to help eradicate it have been taken to task by Health Minister Datuk Seri Dr Chua Soi Lek.
He said the response to most campaigns and gotong-royong had been poor.
"During such campaigns, most of the participants are the staff of the health department or local authorities with volunteers from among Barisan Nasional members," he said after a visit to the Pasir Putih Hospital.
"The villagers directly affected rarely take part. They stay inside or just look at those doing the work without feeling the slightest guilt."
Chua said this reflected a lack of awareness and sense of responsibility in the community.
"These selfish people like to blame others whenever there are dengue cases in their areas yet give so many excuses when the health officers find Aedes mosquitoes breeding in their compounds.
"They blame the authorities for failing to collect rubbish on time and for stagnant drains."
He believed such attitude had contributed to the rising number of dengue cases since early this year.
In Kuala Lumpur, Health Ministry’s disease control director Datuk Dr Hasan Abdul Rahman said as at July 28, 65 people had succumbed to dengue compared with 49 during the same period last year.
He said the four states with the highest number of dengue cases were Selangor, Kelantan, Johor and here.

Lower cure rate of TB at private hospitals

NST: KUALA LUMPUR: How are private hospitals coping with the rise in cases of tuberculosis?
Director-General of Health Tan Sri Dr Ismail Merican is concerned that lack of standardisation of diagnosis and treatment may lead to poor management of the disease.
He said the cure rate of TB at private hospitals was lower than at government hospitals.
"The quality of diagnosis and treatment, in general, is not the same and this is of concern to us," he said at the opening of the International Union against Tuberculosis and Lung Disease Asia Pacific Region — 1st Asia Pacific Region Conference 2007 at Shangri-la Hotel yesterday.
He warned that poor management of TB, including diagnostic delays, would contribute towards the spread of the disease, higher cost of treatment and the risk of multi-drug resistant tuberculosis (MDR).
The emergence of an increasing number of MDR patients is also worrying authorities.
Resistance occurs when patients stop taking medication after a month or two, thinking that they have been cured.
Dr Ismail said it was important that a TB patient strictly followed the medication regime prescribed by his doctor as it would be hard to recover if medication was stopped midway.
He encouraged private hospitals, which handled 5.5 per cent of TB cases, to adopt the Directly Observed Treatment-Short Course (Dots) strategy to stop the spread of the disease.
The World Health Organisation introduced the strategy to emphasise importance of supervision of patients throughout treatment.
Dots has had almost 100 per cent success in some countries.
The supervision can be done by a family member, a member of the community, or a trained medical staff.
Their duty would be to check if patients have taken their medicine, ticking it off on a checklist.
The battle with TB has raged for more than 60 years, when the illness killed many in the 1940s.
In Malaysia, according to Health Ministry statistics, TB infects 45 people daily, killing four over time.
This is despite the aggressive National TB control programme implemented in the early 1960s that has managed to keep the disease from spreading aggressively.
Last year, 16,665 new infections were registered, with 1,500 deaths.
Within the Asia-Pacific region, 100 people are infected with TB every hour with 35 people dying in that space of time.
The rate of infection has risen so much in recent years that a 2007 WHO report listed Malaysia at the "intermediate" prevalence level for TB, from the previously "low-medium prevalence" ranking last year.
The incident rate has fallen from more than 80 per 100,000 population 25 years ago to 62.5 per 100,000 population last year.
Dr Ismail said the ministry was working towards reducing by half the number of cases and deaths by 2010.
Meanwhile, Malaysian Association for the Prevention of Tuberculosis president Datuk Seri Yeop Jr Yeop Adlan said among infectious diseases, TB was the nation’s top killer.
He said this was largely due to migration of Indonesians, Myanmars and Filipinos.
He cited Johor, Selangor, Kuala Lumpur, Sabah and Sarawak as examples of states with more TB cases due to the influx of foreigners.

Adulterated Medicines Said To Involve Mostly Herbal Products

KUALA LUMPUR, Aug 2 (Bernama) -- The problem of adulterated medicines in Malaysia is now more apparent in herbal products, according to international pharmaceutical company Pfizer Global Pharmaceuticals.
Its corporate affairs director for Malaysia and Singapore, Narinder Kaur, said the adulterated medicines -- a condition where the product contains active pharmaceutical ingredients (API) -- were commonly found in herbal products and were now more widespread compared to copycat drugs previously.
"Our investigation in the past several years has found that the problem is moving from copycat medicines to adulteration, which is very common in herbal products.
"We see a lot of adulterated medicines now. The products may be approved by the health authorities but are later laced with API," she told reporters at the Global Symposium on Counterfeit Medicines, here today.
She said adulterated drugs were sold under many brands in the market, and mostly by peddlers.
She said the factors that contributed to increased popularity of adulterated medicines in the markets included the confidence of the people on herbal products.
"It could be because people have high regard for traditional medicine because they are made from natural ingredients and therefore they think that anything natural is safe," she said.
Other factors that caused consumers to fall victim to fake drugs were gullibility and embarrassment of their health status.
Citing erectile dysfunction as an example, she said the embarrassment factor had also caused patients to resort to counterfeit medicines for solutions instead of seeking help from medical professionals.
Meanwhile, the Health Ministry's Pharmacy Enforcement Division Deputy Director Yogeswary Markandoo said the people were unaware of the grave danger fake medicines posed to their lives.
However, she said, the problems of counterfeit medicines in Malaysia was not serious due to the constant checks conducted by the government through its various enforcement agencies.
"We are also in a continuous awareness programme to educate the public to only buy medicines from legal and authorised pharmacies and clinics. Do not buy from peddlers, over the Internet or through mail order," she added.

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

Government to build new clinics, upgrade existing ones

Star: PUCHONG: The public can expect better health services with the building of 500 new clinics and the upgrading of existing clinics in the next three years, said Health Minister Datuk Seri Dr Chua Soi Lek.
A total of RM1.2bil will be spent on building the new clinics and another RM400mil for upgrading of existing premises, he said.
The new clinics will be built in cities as well as rural areas in the next three years, said Dr Chua, adding that the ministry approved the RM300,000 request by the Puchong Health Clinic for its expansion work.
The clinic has five doctors and they see 480 patients daily, said Puchong MP Lau Yeng Peng.
Dr Chua said the Eighth Malaysia Plan had concentrated on building hospitals, with almost RM5bil spent.
However, in the Ninth Malaysia Plan, no new hospitals will be built and the allocation will be on city and rural clinics.
Due to a lack of land in cities, the ministry is looking into building multi-level health clinics and 20 mobile clinics to meet the needs of poorer city folk.
At the multi-level clinics, the ground floor will be allocated for mothers, children and emergency cases while other cases will be referred upstairs, he said.

Government Considers Multi-storey Health Clinics In Towns

PUCHONG, July 31 (Bernama) -- The Health Ministry is considering the possibility of building multi-storey health clinics especially in the urban areas to overcome the problem of obtaining suitable sites.
Its minister Datuk Seri Dr Chua Soi Lek said besides the high cost of land, there was a shortage of suitable sites for the clinics.
"It's difficult to find suitable land now. Even if there is any it is too far (from the towns) and without a reliable transportation system," he told reporters after visiting the Puchong Health Clinic here Tuesday.
He said the emergency unit, and maternity and children wards would be placed on the ground floor of the multi-storey clinics while others would be located on the upper level.
"However, we are still discussing the matter at the ministerial level on how the concept can be implemented," he said.
Chua said mobile health clinics would also be set up at congested town centres which would provide basic checks such as blood and diabetic tests.
In another development, he said the ministry would allocate RM400 million to upgrade health and rural clinics nationwide and the projects were expected to be completed in one year.
Chua said the government would also build 500 health clinics especially in the rural areas at the cost of RM1.2 million in three years.