KUALA LUMPUR, July 3 — Following repeated fires at Hospital Sultanah Aminah (HSA) in Johor Baru, the Malaysian Health Coalition (MHC) today called on the government to make several improvements to the public healthcare system to increase standards of patient safety and to forge better cooperation between the public and private sector.
The coalition of 48 health professional bodies and 19 individuals urged the government to increase transparency and allow public health data to be accessible to other industry stakeholders, and suggested making public the 2016 fire that claimed the lives of six patients and injured four more at HSA.
“Relevant parties must be appropriately held accountable for their actions or inactions which led to the HSA fires.
“Transparency will strengthen patient safety, identify opportunities for improvement, increase accountability and debunk conspiracy theories,” MHC said.
MHC members include the Malaysian Medical Association, the Academy of Medicine Malaysia, the Association of Private Hospitals Malaysia, the College of Surgeons, and the Islamic Medical Association Malaysia.
The coalition also recommended the government initiate information-sharing among the health sectors, professionals, and researchers to further strengthen the system.
MHC deplored the lack of some information within the Health Ministry’s annual reports, saying it was still being withheld by the government after some years and is even inaccessible to medical researchers.
“If all areas of our health system can contribute to and source from a shared database, we can draw a more comprehensive picture of Malaysia’s population health and collaborate to find solutions for health inequities in the country,” it said.
MHC urged the government to begin investing in information technology within the medical sector, which it said would allow easy access to accurate and updated information from a common source.
It said the use of technology together with non-punitive methods when attempting to detect and solve errors will help Malaysian healthcare move closer to fewer mistakes.
“Besides that, improved patient safety requires a cultural shift in favour of non-punitive inquisition for early detection and resolution of errors in and around our healthcare system, before there is irreversible damage.
“Public trust in our healthcare system depends on patient safety as the most fundamental duty of care, and patient safety is everyone’s responsibility.
“While it is impossible to be free of error and risk, all stakeholders must work together to maximise patient safety in Malaysia’s health system,” MHC said.
Another fire broke out in the women’s ward of HSA on June 28, four years after a fatal blaze at its Intensive Care Unit.
According to media reports, there have been six fire incidents at the same hospital, which has yet to obtain a fire certificate from the Fire and Rescue Department.