Materia Medica Malaysiana

August 22, 2007

Health screening at shopping centres illegal

Filed under: Uncategorized — malaysianmedicine @ 9:12 am

Star: PETALING JAYA: Health screening and checks cannot be conducted at shopping centres and hotels.
Health Minister Datuk Seri Dr Chua Soi Lek said those who carried out such tests were doing so without the approval and support of the ministry.
“They are not recognised or endorsed by us. They are illegal,” he told reporters yesterday after representing Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak at the opening the 24th World Congress of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine here.
Dr Chua, who warned Malaysians against undergoing such checks at shopping centres and hotels, said there was an “unhealthy development” in which some untrained individuals were in cahoots with private hospitals to refer patients to the establishments for treatment after claiming that the tests showed they were at risk from certain illnesses.
Those who went for such tests would not get a correct interpretation of the results, he said.
Dr Chua cited an example where the people would get a telephone call informing them that they would get a free health screening. Basic tests such as measuring the weight, height and a urine check for glucose level are carried out.
“Then, they’ll say you have a risk of getting diabetes or high blood pressure and should be referred to a doctor and pay RM400. So, the doctor will get additional income and he will give a kickback to them,” he said.
An estimated 240 million pathology laboratory tests were carried out in Malaysia last year, which translates to 650,000 tests daily.
The cost for tests ranges from RM5 for a simple haemoglobin test to a few hundred ringgit, depending on the complexity.
The ministry had in the past two months received two written complaints on the matter, Dr Chua said, adding that in another incident, a woman sought his help after her test results were thrown away when she said she could not afford to go to the recommended private hospital.
He said the doctor involved, based in Kuala Lumpur, denied the allegations when questioned by ministry officers.
Dr Chua advised the public to go for health checks organised by the ministry or government hospitals.
The public can complain to the ministry’s private clinics complaint hotline at 03-8883-1484.
Dr Chua warned doctors that they could be referred to the Malaysian Medical Council if they were found to have committed such wrongdoings and cited for unprofessional conduct.
Action could also be taken against shopping centres and hotels under the Private Healthcare Facilities and Services Act 1998 for renting out their premises for such activities, he said.
Dr Chua said that under the Pathology Laboratory Act, patients could not just “walk into” pathology laboratories to be tested.
“It is wrong for the labs to do it. They can have packages but the patient should be referred by a doctor,” he said, adding that only a doctor would be able to diagnose and treat based on the results.
This, he said, was to prevent patients from “being their own doctor” by ordering and making a diagnosis.
He said that the Act also specified the type of tests the laboratory could conduct according to their licence while the person in charge would have to be either a doctor, pathologist or scientific officer.
The pathologists at the laboratory are only allowed to carry out tests which they are licensed for, he said.
Dr Chua said the ministry would also control the advertisements posted by the laboratories besides having a mechanism for the public to file complaints. A scheduled fee will also be enforced.
He said there were more enforcement officers in the field, totalling 100 now, adding that the ministry would seek to get more next year.

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