Malaysian Health Ministry denies hospital delayed treatment of critically injured Singaporean over payment, SE Asia News & Top Stories

KUALA LUMPUR – The Malaysian Ministry of Health (MOH) has denied reports that a hospital threatened to deny treatment to a Singaporean man killed in a hit-and-run case in Johor Bahru if payment was not made first.

Mr Justinian Tan, 25, was in JB with Mr Joshua De Rozario and four other friends from their primary school for a rare gathering over supper last Friday (Aug 24) when the accounting student of private school Kaplan was hit by a car. 

He sustained severe injuries, and died at around 12.30am at Singapore General Hospital on Aug 30 when he was taken off life support.

Mr De Rozario later complained of the ordeal to a Singaporean online website The Independent, including how the ambulance took a long time to arrive at the scene of the accident.

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He claimed that upon reaching the Sultan Aminah Hospital, they were asked to pay RM1,350 (S$429) each before its staff could start giving them treatment.

But in a press release issued on Friday by Malaysia’s Director General of Health Datuk Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah, the Ministry of Health noted that after the 24-year-old sustained injuries, an emergency call was made at 2.57am, following which an ambulance was dispatched at 2.59am and reached the spot of the accident at 3.10am. Subsequently, the ambulance departed from the scene with the patient at 3.15am.

The ministry said this was a timely response, with a despatch time of two minutes and a response time of 13 minutes.

Subsequently, Mr Tan was admitted to the “Red Zone” upon arrival at the Emergency Department of the hospital. It said that emergency treatment under an “Advanced Trauma Life Support” protocol was followed, which had already been initiated by the ambulance team.

“The Emergency Department team also initiated the necessary imaging (primary survey X-rays, CT-scan of brain, cervical and thorax), treatment (including intubation) and referral to the relevant team in a very timely and professional manner, without asking for any deposit since this is an emergency case,” the ministry said.

This was in line with the MOH policy declared on March 4, 2015, regarding deposit payment for foreigners in MOH hospitals, it said.

“In view of the injury to his brain, the patient was referred to Neurosurgery team, and urgent decompressive craniectomy plus removal of clot and intracranial pressure monitoring was planned without demand for any deposit payment. Subsequent to this, the family members arrived, and only then they were requested to make deposit payment as per protocol for foreigner patient; but it is important to note that the emergency imaging and treatments required were not withheld or delayed,” the ministry said.

However, Mr Tan’s family members opted for discharge at own risk (AOR discharge) and arranged for his admission to a hospital in Singapore after understanding the risk involved in further delaying surgery.

The Malaysian Ministry of Health urged “all relevant parties to be responsible in reporting and further commenting, as releasing inaccurate information and baseless statement can lead to misunderstanding and disrupt the harmony. The MOH has always value life and does it utmost best to treat any patient, regardless of their background or nationality. This is in line with MOH ethos and corporate culture of ‘Caring, Professionalism and Teamwork’.”

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