Emergency Department Priority For Sickest, Not Men In Uniform, Minister’s Advisor Tells MP

Health Minister’s advisor Dr Kelvin Yii tells Tasek Gelugor MP Wan Saiful that the emergency department shouldn’t have special lanes for VIPs/ police/ military veterans, as the triage system prioritises critical cases regardless of their position in life.

KUALA LUMPUR, Sept 22 – Dr Kelvin Yii today denounced Tasek Gelugor MP Wan Saiful Wan Jan’s proposal for a special lane in public emergency departments for the police, Armed Forces, and military veterans.

The special advisor to Health Minister Dr Zaliha Mustafa pointed out that emergency departments use a triage system to determine the priority of patients: the Red Zone is for critical cases, Yellow Zone for semi-critical cases, and the Green Zone for non-critical cases.

“There should not be any special lanes for VIPs or any person of status when it comes to Emergency Departments at hospitals as the priority and consideration should always be the severity of the patient and their conditions that may require urgent care,” Dr Yii, who is also Bandar Kuching MP, said in a series of tweets.

“While we fully appreciate the contributions and sacrifices of our men in uniform, when it comes to the emergency department, priority should be given to the sickest, regardless of their position in life.”

He reiterated Ministry of Health (MOH) policy in prioritising “emergency and urgent cases”. Then-Health director-general Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah also reportedly said last December that the only “special lane” in public hospitals was for the elderly.

“With that said, we understand the need to improve services and patients’ waiting time, which requires more investment into both human resources and needed infrastructure in many of the hospitals nationwide,” Dr Yii added.

Wan Saiful (PN-Tasek Gelugor) told the Dewan Rakyat last Tuesday that many police officers, military personnel, and veterans have met with him, requesting special privileges for the uniformed services – and also their family members – to cut the queue in overcrowded emergency departments at government hospitals.

Health Minister Dr Zaliha responded that she would consider the Opposition MP’s suggestion.

Wan Saiful’s proposal received blowback on the X platform (formerly known as Twitter), with many health care professionals pointing out that even MOH staff do not get priority for treatment in government hospitals.

A medical officer at Kuala Lumpur Hospital’s emergency department stressed the existing triage system in emergency rooms that prioritises critical cases, saying: “Nowhere in the world is there a triage system based on status.”

Another emergency doctor said: “The emergency department isn’t a flight boarding priority lane.”

Former Health deputy director-general Dr Christopher Lee explained that emergency departments are rapid response units set up to deal with all medical emergencies for patients across the board, with the triage system for Red, Yellow, and Green Zones. “An ED special lane based on one’s status would be inappropriate.”

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