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Malaysia health ministry: JB hospital did not demand payment before treating S’porean victims of car accident

They said the ambulance arrived at the scene less than 15 minutes after the emergency call.

Joshua Lee | September 1, 2017 @ 06:03 pm

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By now, you might have heard about 24-year-old Singaporean Justinian Tan, who died on Wednesday, August 30, from critical injuries sustained from a hit-and-run car accident in Johor Baru (JB) on August 25.

His friends and family have reportedly said the Sultanah Aminah Hospital allegedly took up to half an hour to arrive at the accident scene, and also demanded payment before rendering medical assistance to him and his friend Brandon Yeo.

Read: JB authorities investigating claims of hospital demanding payment before treating S’porean in car accident

However, in a statement issued by Datuk Noor Hisham Abdullah, Malaysia’s Ministry of Health Director-General, the hospital responded in a “timely manner” — despatch time was 2 minutes, and its response time was 13 minutes:

“From the ambulance service records, it was noticed that the emergency call was made at 2:57 AM on the 25th August 2017. The ambulance left HSA at 2:59 AM, arrived at the scene at 3:10 AM and departed from the scene with the patient at 3:15 AM. Kudos to the ambulance call service for a very timely response, with the despatch time of two (2) minutes and response time of 13 minutes.

Distance from road where accident occured to hospital. Via Google Maps.

Additionally, Datuk Noor Hisham stressed that emergency treatment and imaging were done without asking for payment in view of the emergency situation:

“Immediately, the emergency treatment as per the Advanced Trauma Life Support (ATLS) protocol was continued, which was already initiated by the ambulance team earlier. The Emergency Department team also initiated the necessary imaging (primary survey X-rays, CT-scans of brain, cervical and thorax), treatment (including intubation) and referral to the relevant team in a very timely and professional manner, without asking for any deposit since this is an emergency case.

It was only after the family of the victims arrived at the hospital that its staff requested a deposit payment “as per protocol for foreigner patients”.

Tan (right) with a friend. Via Facebook.

Subsequently, his statement added, Tan’s family members requested a “discharge at own risk (AOR discharge) and arranged for admission to a hospital in Singapore after understanding the risk involved in further delaying the surgery”.

The Director-General also requested “all relevant parties” to refrain from spreading inaccurate information, stating that the Malaysian Ministry of Health does its “utmost best to treat any patient, regardless of their background or nationality”.

Here’s his statement in full, with the key points bolded by us:

The Ministry of Health (MOH) Malaysia take note of the reporting by online news portal The Independent SG (theindependent.sg) on the 31st August 2017 regarding a Singaporean man who died following injury sustained from a Motor Vehicle Accident (MVA) in Johor Bahru. Condolence to the family and friends of the deceased for the demise of this young gentlemen. However, the MOH would like to stress that there were no delay or demand for payment before treatment of this gentleman by Sultanah Aminah Hospital (HSA) Johor Bahru.

In their article, theindependent.sg claimed that the deceased, a 25-year old Singaporean sustained critical injuries following that MVA, and alleged that there was a slow respond time by the ambulance from HSA up to 30 minutes. From the ambulance service records, it was noted that the emergency call was made at 2:57 AM on the 25th August 2017. The ambulance left HSA at 2:59 AM, arrived at the scene at 3:10 AM and departed from the scene with the patient at 3:15 AM. Kudos to the ambulance call services for a very timely response, with despatch time of two (2) minutes and response time of 13 minutes.

In view of his critical condition, the Singaporean man was admitted to the Red Zone upon arrival at the Emergency Department. Immediately, the emergency treatment as per the Advanced Trauma Life Support (ATLS) protocol was continued, which was already initiated by the ambulance team earlier. The Emergency Department team also initiated the necessary imaging (primary survey X-rays, CT-scan of brain, cervical and thorax), treatment (including intubation) and referral to the relevant team in a very timely and professional manner, without asking for any deposit since this is an emergency case. This is in line with the MOH policy as per the MOH Secretary General circular dated 4th March 2015 regarding deposit payment for foreigners in MOH hospitals.

In view of the injury to his brain, the patient was referred to Neurosurgery team, and urgent decompressive craniectomy plus removal of clot and intracranial pressure monitoring was planned without demand for any deposit payment. Subsequent to this, the family members arrived, and only then they were requested to make deposit payment as per protocol for foreigner patient; but it is important to note that the emergency imaging and treatments required were not withheld or delayed. However the family members opted for discharge at own risk (AOR discharge) and arranged for admission to a hospital in Singapore after understanding the risk involved of further delaying the surgery.

The MOH urge all relevant parties to be responsible in reporting and further commenting, as releasing inaccurate information and baseless statement can lead to misunderstanding and disrupt the harmony. The MOH has always value life and does it utmost best to treat any patient, regardless of their background or nationality. This is in line with MOH ethos and corporate culture of “Caring, Professionalism and Teamwork”.

“We’re Ready to Help”

DATUK DR. NOOR HISHAM ABDULLAH
DIRECTOR GENERAL OF HEALTH MALAYSIA

1st September 2017

We have sent an enquiry to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs for clarification on this case.

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Related article:

JB authorities investigating claims of hospital demanding payment before treating S’porean in car accident

Top image via Google Street View.

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