What we believe is that ambulances are deployed during an emergency and the patient that is being transported would be brought to the nearest government hospital.
That would be the train of thought in most people’s minds, without knowing what happens between the home of a patient and the hospital.
Sadly the scene where a patient is being transported immediately to a government hospital in the vicinity does not quite translate in the Malaysian context.
At least not in Leela Tan’s situation.
When Tan’s mother fainted from a stroke, her first thought was to call the ambulance and the ambulance arrived.
As Tan’s mother’s had always sought treatment and medical checkups at this one government hospital (let’s call it H1), Tan’s immediate decision was to request for her mother to be sent to H1.
The ambulance however refused her request and said they would only send her mother to the another hospital nearby (let’s call that H2) which is not under their area jurisdiction.
So while Tan’s mother was unconscious in their home, a debate was ongoing as to which hospital would take her mother in.
In desperation, Tan agreed for her mother to be sent to H2.
Both H1 and H2 are government hospitals.
That in itself is a nightmare that no one would wish for when a life is at stake and yet an argument had to occur before a decision could be made as to where a patient can be taken to.
The nightmare did not end there as upon diagnosis, the doctor at H2 said that they could not do anything to help Tan’s mother and that her recovery depended on her own will for survival and to regain consciousness.
Tan’s mother was sent home without any instructions on what could be done next or what Tan could do as a follow-up to her mother’s condition.
Tan’s mother subsequently had a fever and that was the only way she could beg the hospital to keep her mother monitored for another night.
It was heart-wrenching for Tan when a day before her mother was to be discharged the doctor had chased her down and reminded her ‘to please make sure you take your mother out tomorrow’.
No doctors or specialists came to offer their advice as to what Tan can do to improve the situation or how she could care for her mother at home.
Tan’s mother who was still unconscious had to be send home without life support or homecare advice.
The only thing the doctor told Tan was to come back in three months for a follow-up checkup and to feed her mother soy milk for the next three months.
The question is, can anyone survive on soy milk alone for more than a week let alone a stroke patient for three months.
Is this the kind of treatment doctors are offering patients at government hospitals?
What happened to doctors’ claims that their priority is always to try save a patient up to his or her last breath?
The only thing Tan got from the doctor was a letter to get more feeding tubes since the tube needs to be changed every two weeks.
Tan’s mother was discharged last Thursday and had passed away on Sunday (October 16).
If this is what that is happening within government hospital walls, it is not only worrying but no wonder the continuous stigma that Malaysians have to visit government hospitals.
Knowing that they need treatment but refuse to admit themselves to the government hospitals but yet not being able to afford private hospital charges.
It is even sadder to know that the country is producing so many more medical professionals and yet those who need medical treatment are not receiving adequate treatment.
Tan’s situation is not the only unreported case, but how many more Malaysians need to be put through this ordeal before the Health Ministry is willing to buck up?
Soo Wern Jun