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Thursday, January 7, 2010

Patient safety should not be compromised

I AM appalled to read your front­page news report “Government surgical facilities in Terengganu out of action” (The Star, Jan 6).

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

I am sure the specifications by the PWD and the Health Ministry is of international standard but unfortunately the lack of knowledge and awareness coupled with poor commissioning has resulted in such embarrassment.

Surgery is one of the most complex health interventions. 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 you just cross your fingers hoping that it will become an operation theatre! There are lots of factors to be considered 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, optimum anaesthetic and surgical equipment.

If one component is faulty, there is no way the facility can function properly.

If the OTs in Terengganu are halted because of basic infrastructure problems like leaks and shabby workmanship, what more of the finite details? Patient safety is at stake here and I’m sure we don’t want to be famous worldwide by having a fatality on an OT table caused by a falling roof.

I urge the PWD, the Health Ministry and other relevant authorities to seek local experts for opinions and reference in rectifying the problem. Commissioning OTs should be aimed at ensuring patient safety in tandem with modern infrastructure plans.

Shah Alam.

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