KUALA LUMPUR, June 12 — Health director-general Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah has recommended hospitals to test patients for Covid-10 before treatment as it is more cost-effective than donning large amounts of protective gear.
Today, CodeBlue reported the complaints of two patients from Assunta Hospital, a private hospital in Petaling Jaya, Selangor, about the high charges for personal protective equipment (PPE) worn by medical staff running up to RM500 for a single visit.
The charges for PPE in Assunta Hospital comprised almost half of the patients’ total medical bills amid the Covid-19 outbreak.
“Obviously, because once you have put on the PPE, then the cost of the PPE in the private hospital will be charged to the patients, but not in the public hospital.
“It depends on the amount of PPE being used. But more importantly is the recommendation from us, MOH (Ministry of Health), that each patient will need to be sampled and tested for Covid-19. It is more cost effective if we do that,” Dr Noor Hisham told a press conference, when asked about the expensive PPE charges at private hospitals.
He also emphasised the significance of protective measures that should be taken by doctors and hospital staff before treating a patient.
“It is important for the doctors before they treat the patient that they know the status of the patient in terms of whether it is Covid positive or negative. And if the test is not done for example, then the doctors will put on the PPE and it will be charged to the patients. This is being done in private hospitals,” the Health DG stated.
A survey conducted by CodeBlue on online shopping platform Shopee Malaysia revealed that the retail price of a set of PPE, comprising the PPE items used in Assunta Hospital — a blue apron, face shield, N95 mask, boot covers, and a pair of gloves — is approximately RM70 to RM100. According to the two Assunta Hospital patients, they were charged for hospital staff’s PPE more than triple the retail price of a set of protective gear.
The issue has also been referred to the enforcement division of the Ministry of Domestic Trade and Consumer Affairs (KPDNHEP) for further comments.