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Health Ministry Refutes Claims That Govt Hospitals Are Risking Patient Safety To Cut Costs

A recent report alleged that government hospitals implementing cost-cutting measures such as recycling single-use medical equipment instead of throwing them away upon use.

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The Ministry of Health (MOH) has refuted a report alleging that government hospitals are putting patient safety at risk by recycling single-use equipment due to lack of funds

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Citing a "highly placed source in the healthcare sector", the report alleged that doctors are being asked to recycle single-use equipment instead of throwing them away upon use as a cost-saving measure

Due to further cuts on the already limited budget for public healthcare, Free Malaysia Today also quoted the source as saying that hospitals are asking patients to buy medication and have tests done elsewhere because they do not have any money or supplies to cope with the demand. Hospitals are also replacing original drugs with cheaper generic drugs to save money. 

In addition, the source also revealed that machines that are broken or need to be serviced could not be tended to due to budget constraints. In case of emergency, they would refer patients to hospitals with working machines, but even then, there's a waiting list for the machines.

In an official statement in response to the report, the MOH refuted the allegations. It also clarified that all consumables and single-use medical devices used for patients with blood-borne are disposed of upon use.

"The MOH would like to strongly refute that and emphasise that MOH has always upheld and prioritised patient safety and standard of care in the healthcare provision," said the statement, which was signed off by Director-General of Health Malaysia, Dr. Noor Hisham Abdullah. 

"The MOH would like to inform that all of the consumables and single-use medical devices utilised for patient with Blood Borne Diseases are disposed after single use. The MOH has published specific guideline in relation to this (Policies and Procedures on Infection Control) and health professionals are expected to adhere to this guideline in their clinical practice. Similarly, majority of consumables and single-use medical devices are also disposed after single use for other patients."

MOH also admitted that some single-use medical devices are indeed used more than once after "thorough cleansing and sterilisation", adding that the practice is a norm in healthcare and not implemented due to budget constraints

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"There are some single-use medical devices that are used more than once, whereby it has to undergo reprocessing via thorough cleansing and sterilisation processes before it can be reused for few times," said the MOH's statement. 

"This has been long practiced in Malaysia and it has no correlation with health financing or budget issue. In fact, this reprocessing practice is a norm even in private health facilities in Malaysia and in developed countries such as United States, European Nations and OECD countries.

The important factors which can never be compromised in this practice are infection control and the patient safety."

"Patient safety will remain at the core of all MOH services and will not be compromised."

You can read the full statement here.

Do you think public healthcare in Malaysia is receiving a sufficient budget allocation to cope with current demand? Let us know what you think in the comments.

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