September 24, 2008

Thanks for the Feedback

By Dr Nooraini Baba

I REFER to the account by Dr Ong Hean Teik of Penang of a Health Ministry inspection of a heart clinic ("Made to feel like a criminal" - NST, Sept 17).

The post-registration inspection is a scheduled exercise, planned and executed pursuant to the Private Healthcare Facilities and Services Act 1998. The Private Medical Practice Control Unit at the state level is entrusted to conduct checks on private clinics to improve and ensure compliance with the Act.

The inspection includes checks on physical structures, basic emergency equipment and inspection of documents on the organisational set-up policies, procedures and registers of private clinics.

These inspections are designed to educate and to promote compliance by private registered medical practitioners to ensure patients' safety and quality healthcare, and is not meant to be punitive.

The visit to Dr Ong Hean Teik's clinic was made with prior arrangement with his clinic's personnel so as not to upset the busy clinic operations or disrupt any prearranged or anticipated commitments.

The issue of diazepam (valium) was brought up because the inspector was concerned about the safekeeping of the drug and suggested that the doctor keep the medication in his room, under his direct supervision.

This practice is consistent with the requirements of the Poison (Psychotropic Substance) Regulations 1989 that psychotropic drugs must be supplied by a registered medical practitioner for medical treatment.

Under Paragraph 88(2)(e) of the Act, an inspector is also allowed to inspect and take extracts from any book, document or record relating to any private clinic which the inspector considers necessary to assist him or her in the checks.

This can include inspection of records which may indicate fees charged to patients, regulated by the Fee Schedule and inspection of patients' medical records to ensure that such records contain the basic information specified in the Fourth Schedule of the Private Healthcare Facilities and Services Regulations (Private Medical Clinics or Private Dental Clinics) 2008.

It is regrettable that Dr Ong Hean Teik was left "feeling like a criminal". His feedback will serve to improve the manner we conduct our post-registration checks in the future.

I would also like to thank him for the full cooperation and time accorded to my team in the process of carrying out their duties.


Director Medical Practice Division Ministry of Health Malaysia

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