‘Patients Entrust Their Lives On Admission, Not To Get A Free Cremation’

By Boo Su-Lyn | 30 June 2020

Doctors ask what actions the government has taken after the deadly 2016 blaze at Sultanah Aminah Hospital (HSA).

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KUALA LUMPUR, June 30 — Medical practitioners have slammed the government for not releasing the findings of an inquiry into a 2016 fire at Sultanah Aminah Hospital (HSA) that suffered another blaze two days ago.

The Medical Practitioners Coalition Association of Malaysia (MPCAM) told the government to implement the recommendations from the independent investigation into the 2016 fire that killed six patients, instead of launching a police investigation on a leak of the inquiry’s report that was published by CodeBlue last March.

“We should learn from the findings of the report and not try to sweep the report under the carpet. Learn from it to prevent further deaths in our hospitals,” MPCAM president Dr Raj Kumar Maharajah told CodeBlue yesterday.

“Patients entrust their lives on admission, not to get a free cremation sponsored by the government and for the report and findings concealed later. We owe this much to those who lost their lives in the 2016 fire.

“Health care issues should not be politicised. MPCAM is disturbed and is following this issue closely. Our online portal, which has 14,000 doctors on it, has been abuzz since Boo Su-Lyn was called in for her statement, and more so now after the second fire [on Sunday],” the physician added.

CodeBlue editor-in-chief Boo is under a police investigation, believed to be related to the Penal Code and the Official Secrets Act (OSA), over her series of four articles on the findings of the independent inquiry into the 2016 HSA fire. Boo reported then-Health Minister Dzulkefly Ahmad as saying last February 24 that the report has been declassified as a state secret.

Another blaze broke out at HSA last Sunday, this time at the women’s ward of the Ministry of Health (MOH) hospital in Johor Baru, Johor, but it did not result in casualties or serious injuries; the fire however forced the evacuation of 24 patients, some of whom were transferred to another hospital. The 2016 blaze had engulfed the south ICU of the public hospital, killing six patients.

Former Health deputy director-general Dr Christopher Lee said he was confident that MOH has taken some, if not all, of the remedial actions recommended by the independent inquiry chaired by former Court of Appeal judge Mohd Hishamudin Yunus.

“The fact that another fire has occurred at the same hospital must compel the ministry to be transparent on what it has done (as well as what has yet to be corrected) with regards to the remedial actions suggested,” Dr Lee told CodeBlue.

“As the state director has already stated, investigations will be carried out and hopefully, the root cause of the fire will be determined. I hope this will be done speedily and in a transparent manner. Patient and staff safety have always been major responsibilities of MOH. MOH must now walk its talk.”

Veteran physician Dr Milton Lum questioned what actions the government has taken after the 2016 blaze at the public hospital.

“Have they rectified whatever was needed over the course of time since the fire? For a fire to occur again at the same place, this is a very relevant question,” Dr Lum told CodeBlue.

“I think the public, the medical profession, are entitled to have answers from the Ministry of Health.”

The former Malaysian Medical Association (MMA) president also called for the inquiry’s report to be made public so that all other hospitals across the government and private sector can learn from the 2016 fire and rectify any shortcomings to prevent future tragedies.

“People go to hospitals to be treated and to come out well. People don’t go to hospitals to be a victim of a fire in the hospital.”

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