PETALING JAYA: Stakeholders in the healthcare sector have identified fatigue and overwork as possible factors in two recent and fatal cases of healthcare workers accidentally leaving their children in their cars.
Dr Azizan Abdul Aziz, president of the Malaysian Medical Association, urged the health ministry to look into the issue to prevent such incidents from recurring.
“Fatigue can cause lapses in concentration, memory, and judgement. To prevent similar incidents, we urge the health ministry to see if tiredness from overwork may have contributed to the problem,” she told FMT.
Azizan also advised the public to ensure that they are well rested before driving, and told parents to find ways to remind themselves of their children’s presence in the car.
“Some mobile applications have been designed for this purpose and should be considered for use. Un-silence your phones and set alarms for the best times to remind yourselves to check the back seats of your vehicles,” she said.
Last month, a healthcare worker left her five-year-old girl at the Shah Alam Hospital, only realising that her daughter was in the car when her husband contacted her about 6pm the same day. By then, the girl had died.
In a similar incident last October, a doctor left her eight-month-old baby in the car for 10 hours, thinking that she had sent her daughter to a daycare centre.
Environmental and occupational health expert Shamsul Bahari Shamsudin said that on top of tight work schedules, healthcare workers dealt with long hours, time constraints, and limited manpower.
“The responsibility to prioritise service to the public has taken a toll on family matters,” he said, adding that these workers did not get enough sleep.
Other than increasing manpower, the Universiti Malaysia Sabah lecturer suggested that these workers be given flexible working hours to reduce fatigue and allow them time to settle personal matters.
Mariani Nor, president of the Malaysian Children Early Education and Parenting Council, encouraged parents and child caretakers to keep each other updated on their children’s whereabouts.
She also said healthcare workers must be allowed to keep mobile phones in their pockets while working in case of emergencies, despite attending to their patients.
“In this modern age, mobile phones should be allowed anywhere as long as they are kept on silent mode and the vibrate function is turned on.
“This will help prevent such incidents if one party needs to ask the other about the children,” she said.