Spike in patients slowing down emergency care at govt hospitals, says audit report

The audit report said many had to wait a long time before they could receive treatment. (Bernama pic)

KUALA LUMPUR: A spike in patients seeking emergency treatment is causing congestion at government hospitals nationwide, leading to the Ministry of Health’s failure to meet its key performance indicators (KPI) on emergency cases, the National Audit Report released today.

The 2018 Series 1 audit report said many had to wait a long time before they could receive treatment.

“This is due to workload constraints faced by the hospitals, coupled with a lack of medical equipment, limited space, and poor ICT systems.

“This has affected the department in terms of providing rapid and appropriate emergency treatment services to patients,” it said.

The report said this has resulted in MOH not achieving its KPI on Medical Emergency Coordinating Centre’s (MECC) for critical cases classified as Priority 1.

“Only 58.7% to 74.5% of patients were treated in less than four to six hours, and there were 917 ‘Access Block’ cases, where patients could not be transferred to medical wards,” it said.

In addition, ETDs also experienced a deficit of 11.6% to 53.1% in terms of workforce required based on the Workload Indicators of Staffing Need 2010.

The report cited the lack of emergency care experts by between 75.6% to 79.5%, medical personnel (41.2% to 64.6%), assistant medical officers (2.6% to 33.9%) and trained nurses (17.4% to 67.1%).

ETDs also faced a shortage of beds in the Yellow and Red zones as well as Observation Wards/Bays due to the increase in the number of patients, forcing them to arrange between eight to 50 units of extra beds and sofas, which is two to five times the current capacity.

In addition, ETDs also lacked up to 108 (50.9%) out of 212 medical equipment required in accordance with the Emergency Medicine and Trauma Services Policy, while the number of computer equipment supplied was insufficient.

The report recommended the MOH promote coordination and integration among hospitals, as well as public and private health clinics to strengthen pre-hospital services, in providing comprehensive and quality health services.

It also said the Public Service Department should consider allowing MOH to be exempted from implementing the Optimisation of Human Resource Policy of downsizing by 1%.

MOH should also be provided with additional posts to address the shortage of health personnel including emergency experts, as well as the increase in workload, added the report.

MOH, meanwhile, has been advised to cooperate with the Ministry of Finance to consider a more comprehensive approach to addressing the lack of facilities such as outsourcing or leasing, to provide better emergency services and reduce the burden on Government spending.

The ministry was also recommended to prioritise developing ICT infrastructure so as not to jeopardise the efficiency of providing emergency services, especially in terms of data management and rapid decision making.