Are healthcare standards dropping in Sabah?

A recent case of alleged negligence has sparked concerns over medical and healthcare standards in Sabah hospitals.

(Free Malaysia Today) – Sabahans have been urged to come forward and make known cases of medical negligence in government hospitals to prevent healthcare standards in the state from deteriorating.

Sabah DAP’s medical bureau chief, Dr Felix Chong, said public action was necessary to compel the Health Ministry to take steps to improve healthcare services in the state following complaints by distraught families of alleged improper care that has resulted in maiming and even deaths of their loved ones.

Chong said that a disturbing case last month has raised concerns that a culture of impunity may be developing in state hospitals.

He noted that the hospitals are overburdened with patients following the rapid growth in population, which has in turn added pressure on medical staff.

He was referring to a 60-year-old patient who was being treated for breast cancer at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital II (QEH II) and who developed gangrene in her arm where her intravenous medication was being administered.

Chong said that it was suspected that the placement of the intravenous (IV) needle on her right arm caused the chemotherapy drug to leak out of the patient’s already fragile vein and cause damage to the surround healthy tissue.

The patient identified only as “Madam T” was admitted to the QEH II in December 2011 and had undergone an operation to remove cancerous tissue from her breast and surrounding areas.

“She was put on a regime consisting of six cycles of chemotherapy. Each cycle involves the intravenous injection of chemotherapeutic drugs.

“These drugs cause a lot of side-effects such as nausea, vomiting, hair loss, fatigue, infection and bleeding, to name a few.

“The drugs work by damaging the cancer cells and preventing further reproduction.

“These drugs are toxic and can also damage normal cells as well and so have to be administered safely and with care.

“I was informed that on Dec 28, Madam T went to QEH II for her final (the sixth chemotherapy cycle). As usual, an intravenous needle and IV drip set was set up on her right arm to deliver the chemotherapeutic drug.

“But this time her tissues started to swell up and her skin started to burn, became black and caused much pain.

“The drug had leaked out from the vein because the IV needle had been wrongly placed, puncturing the already fragile vein,” he said.