Materia Medica Malaysiana

August 22, 2007

Health labs to be monitored under Act

Filed under: Uncategorized — malaysianmedicine @ 9:12 am

NST: PETALING JAYA: Some businessmen offering free medical tests at hotels or shopping complexes are in cahoots with doctors to make money from the public.
This is how it works. On handing over tests results to individuals, the businessmen recommend certain doctors.
But anyone insisting on going to his own doctor may see the withdrawal of test results on a host of complaints, including blood pressure and blood sugar.
The doctors in question usually offer patients a health package at their hospital at nothing less than RM400.
It is understood that the businessmen are given a “commission” for their services.
Health Minister Datuk Seri Dr Chua Soi Lek came across this recently when a person complained to him of free health screening with a catch.
He said it happened at a hotel in Malacca after an individual was handed the test results and then referred to a doctor at a private hospital for a check-up.
“When the man said he could not afford to go to a private hospital, the person conducting the free screening tore up the results and threw it in a dustbin.
“When I asked him why he did that, he said that the individual did not need the results as he was not going to the doctor being referred to,” he added.
He got the name of the doctor and confronted him, only to be told that he had nothing to do with the matter.
Dr Chua said these shenanigans would soon be a thing of the past.
The Pathology Act that will come into force next year will see all such laboratories, including those in private hospitals, being monitored by the ministry.
“At present, anyone with a business licence can run a laboratory with people walking in and asking for tests to be done,” he said after launching the 24th World Congress of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine here.
The laboratories will also have to be managed by either a doctor, a pathologist or a scientific officer, depending on tests conducted.
“Patients cannot walk in as they like and ask for tests to be conducted. They have to be referred by doctors.”
Dr Chua said it was wrong to allow individuals to decide what they wanted to do after getting the results of the screening.
On hotels and shopping complexes used by the businessmen, he said they needed approval from the ministry for such activities.
He said they could be charged under the Private Healthcare Facilities and Services Act and fined RM300,000 or six years’ jail, or both, if found guilty.
Earlier at the function, Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak, whose speech was read by Dr Chua, said about 240 million pathology laboratory tests were done in Malaysia last year, working out to 650,000 tests a day.
He said 46 per cent of the tests were done in government hospitals, 10 per cent in university hospitals and the remaining 44 per cent in private laboratories.
He said Malaysia had always been mindful of the pathology’s practice standards, considering there were only 300 pathologists in the country.
“When we consider how important each test result is to patients, we can appreciate the importance of first-rate pathology laboratories.”

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