KUALA LUMPUR, May 4 — The Malaysian Medical Association (MMA) has urged the authorities to investigate without delay the death by falling of a houseman assigned to the Penang General Hospital.
In a statement today, MMA president Dr Koh Kar Chai said the association also hoped that the privacy of the family will be respected and the incident will not be sensationalised.
Separately, DAP lawmaker Dr Kelvin Yii said that the ministry must launch an immediate and transparent investigation into the death of the houseman and prepare the necessary support including emotional and psychological support to all healthcare workers including housemen to ensure such incidents do not happen again.
“What is concerning is that this is believed to be the second death to involve a junior doctor in the span of two years.
“On top of that, there are reports (regarding) tough and toxic working conditions for these young doctors — up to 16 to 17 hours a day — affecting not just their physical health but also mental health,” said Yii in a statement today.
The Bandar Kuching MP also said he had received reports from several doctors who preferred to remain anonymous, who said bullying in the medical fraternity is a pervasive problem.
“That is why the hospital management must take responsibility and the Ministry of Health (MoH) must provide a clear explanation and conduct a transparent investigation into the matter to ensure any toxic practices against any of our healthcare workers are curbed.
“This cannot be dismissed as a ‘common practice or culture’ and just be swept under the carpet.
“I call upon the government and the MoH to implement a strict zero horizontal violence policy in all workplace to curb any toxic environment and even violence among all healthcare workers,” he said.
Yii also explained that horizontal violence has negative psychological and physical effects on the health of our healthcare professionals.
“It often does not directly attack the person physically, but indirectly puts victims in a state of high level stress, leading to stress-related disorders and injuries.
“Physiologically, repeated exposure to stressors depletes the body’s defence system and increases the risk of heart disease, hypertension, sleep disorders and other adverse reactions to stress.
“Psychologically, victims of horizontal violence generally have low level mental health and horizontal violence may cause obvious psychological symptoms, such as anxiety, depression and feeling of stress,” he said.
He added that all these will directly have an impact towards patient care.
Yii also said studies have shown that occurrence of horizontal violence could cause healthcare workers to feel pain, their attention and judgment would be disturbed, and the communication and collaboration among staff would be reduced, which would eventually damage patient care.
“That is why this issue must not be treated as an isolated case but looked at seriously not only on a local level in Penang, but also at a macro-level nationwide.
“On top of providing a more positive learning environment, MoH must look at providing a safe avenue to seek help.
“In many cases, there are no clear channels for victims to voice out, by the time they do, it’s too late,” said Yii.
Yii also claimed that this is one of the reasons why young doctors, nurses, assistant medical officers, pharmacists and other healthcare workers are leaving the public healthcare service due to such toxicity.
“If not addressed properly we will lose our young healthcare professionals which will affect the quality of care to our people,” he said.
Earlier today, the Penang Health Department confirmed the death of a houseman assigned to the state general hospital, after news reports of the incident raised questions over the work conditions for junior doctors.
State health director Dr Ma’arof Sudin said the trainee doctor was placed at the Penang Hospital on April 4 and fell to his death on April 17 from the latter’s building of residence.
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