Malaysiakini Letter

Building a hospital not like building an office

Dr Mafeitzeral Mamat
Published:  |  Modified:

I refer to the Malaysiakini report Overpriced hospital, another public funds 'sink hole' .

I am appalled by the revelation in the media that government surgical facilities are below par. Unfortunately, this is not the first time we have heard about it in Malaysia. It is a shame because the delay in healthcare service delivery lies which basic infrastructure issues and this issue should be non-existent.

Millions of ringgit of taxpayers’ money has been wasted in awarding contracts to unqualified and unaccredited contractors who know nothing about building a healthcare facility.

I am sure the specifications by the PWD and health ministry are of international standard but unfortunately, the lack of knowledge and awareness topped up by poor commissioning is such an embarrassment.

Surgery is one of the most complex health interventions to deliver. More than 100 million people in the world receive surgical treatment every year for various reasons. Problems associated with surgical and anaesthetic safety in developed countries account for half of the avoidable adverse events that result in morbidity and mortality.

Building a surgical facility is not about building an office-like structure and crossing your fingers hoping that it will become an operating theatre (OT). There are a lot of factors that need to be considered in tandem while designing an OT complex.

These factors are inter-dependable, namely the medical gas supply system, electrical safety, ventilation and air distribution, humidity and temperature control, scavenging and waste management, standard monitoring devices and optimum anaesthetic and surgical equipments.

If one component is faulty then there is no way the OT facility can function optimally. If the OTs in Terengganu services, as reported recently, are halted because of basic infrastructural problems like leaks and shabby workmanship; what more will be the finite details?

Patient safety is at stake here and I’m sure we don’t want to be famous worldwide for having an on OT table death caused by the roof which fell in?

I urge the PWD, health ministry and the involved bodies to seek local expertise for opinion and reference in rectifying this issue. Commissioning OTs for use should be aimed at ensuring patient safety in tandem with the modern infrastructure plans.

Please learn from past mistakes and move towards being recognised by specific international accreditation standards eg the JCI. It will be ridiculous if after the physical repair was done the OTs still cannot be commissioned for use because of patient safety compromise.

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