JOHOR BAHRU: A chaotic and disorganised environment and lack of proper facilities — not just doctors’ incompetency — have contributed to medical negligence, especially in public hospitals, according to a consultant surgeon.
Speaking at the Iskandar Malaysia law conference here recently, Dr Razman Jarmin, the director of Hospital Canselor Tuanku Muhriz in Kuala Lumpur, said this was especially prevalent in government hospitals.
The annual conference was organised jointly by MyIskandar Sdn Bhd, a wholly owned subsidiary of Iskandar Regional Development Authority (Irda), and Law Chambers of Vin Sa & Ian (VSI). FMT was the media partner.
“Wards in government hospitals can get very crowded and disorganised during emergencies, like what we saw during the height of the Covid-19 pandemic.
“Such situations create risks for medical negligence to occur.
“There are so many beds and patients, and this can lead to the wrong medication being prescribed to the wrong people.
“There is also a possibility of wrong X-rays and the situation is not helped when they are cared for by junior doctors,” he said when delivering a paper on common mistakes that lead to medical negligence.
Razman said in some cases, patients are forced to wait because of lack of facilities or faulty equipment. This can also contribute to medical negligence although it was no fault of the doctors or management staff.
For example, he said delays in getting operation theatre slots could lead to complications in patients while they wait. Even after getting the slots, some procedures may have to be postponed because of a lack of intensive care (ICU) unit beds.
“Sometimes, when the ICU bed is available, the air conditioner breaks down, forcing another postponement. By the time they operate on the tumour, it could have spread elsewhere, with stage two cases moving on to stage three and so on.
“Here, the question is whether this is tantamount to mismanagement negligence on the part of the doctor or hospital because of the treatment process.
“You will never know but this can lead to litigation. These are the things mainly faced by our public hospitals,” he said.
Razman said besides medical facilities, other factors such as a breakdown of medical facilities could also pose a risk that could lead to medical negligence suits.
He said medical practitioners now faced a new challenge involving phone communications between the doctors and healthcare staff in the wards. Such cases were increasing.
“The question here is whether instructions given through the phone to para medical staff in the wards are valid when produced in court.
“This is because they did not review the patient and only received information from the staff before they prescribed any medication or procedures.
“The medical fraternity and hospital administrators should take cognizance of this because when faced with litigation, all such communications are vital for the courts to reach a decision.”