KUALA LUMPUR, Dec 13 – Raja Permaisuri Bainun Hospital (HPRB) management has announced an investigation over severe congestion at the Ipoh general hospital’s emergency and trauma department (ETD).
The public hospital was responding to a report published by CodeBlue yesterday that detailed how critically ill patients, including those on ventilator support, are stranded days in HRPB’s ETD for ward admission – two to three days on average and even up to six days – due to insufficient critical care beds and a shortage of doctors and nurses.
“However, like many other hospitals, there is room for improvement to further increase the quality of medical care for patients,” HRPB director Dr Megat Iskandar Megat Abdul Hamid said in a statement last night.
“Further, HRPB’s management will study and discuss with the Perak state health department and the Ministry of Health (MOH) Malaysia headquarters to increase capacity to treat critically ill patients at HRPB.”
Dr Megat Iskandar pointed out that the ETDs at state hospitals constantly receive and treat a large number of patients in emergency, comprising ambulance calls, walk-ins, and referral cases.
“Nonetheless, the emergency and trauma department always tries its hardest to provide the best quality of care to patients.”
He added that HRPB has tried to expedite ward admissions by creating a 24-hour bed management unit (BMU) that was found to smoothen the process of patient discharges from all wards and admission of patients from the ETD to wards.
“Critical cases who are stable but require further treatment are transferred to cluster hospitals to reduce congestion in HRPB. With this, HRPB health care workers are able to provide more efficient care for critically ill patients at the emergency and trauma department.”
CodeBlue had reported that severely sick patients are waiting days in HRPB’s emergency department for ward admission, despite use of the BMU and patient transfer to district hospitals.
HRPB medical officers told CodeBlue that most of the people turning up seriously ill in the ETD are presenting with advanced chronic conditions, such as heart disease, kidney failure, and stroke.
Internal HRPB statistics show that 14,109 Red Zone (Critical Zone) outpatient arrivals at the ETD were recorded this year as of November, nearly equal to the 14,700 arrivals throughout last year during the acute phase of the Covid-19 pandemic.
Senior medical practitioners have expressed concern over the crisis at the emergency department of the tertiary MOH hospital in the Perak state capital city of Ipoh.
“I dare say this is being played out across all major hospitals including mine – PPUM,” Universiti Malaya infectious disease expert Prof Dr Adeeba Kamarulzaman tweeted, referring to Universiti Malaya Medical Centre (PPUM).
“We’re paying the price of years and years of chronic underinvestment in public health and a pivot to privatisation.”
Former Health deputy director general Dr Christopher Lee noted that the surge of patients to HRPB’s emergency department was mainly driven by sick patients with non-communicable diseases (NCDs) – contributed by poorly controlled NCDs during the Covid-19 pandemic and the rising cost of living that leads to more patients going to public hospitals.
“This needs urgent attention; lives are at stake,” he tweeted.