Health D-G: Private hospitals must justify high medical bills to patients
BY LOH FOON FONG
PETALING JAYA: The private healthcare sector has been warned that it must address patients’ complaints over high fees charged.
This followed a letter published in The Star on June 12 titled “Choking over hospital’s high fees” where a patient had complained for being charged almost RM1,000 by an ear, nose and throat (ENT) surgeon for a fish bone removal from his throat that did not take more than five minutes.
The Health Ministry said the complaint must be answered.
“The hospital should manage the complaints, including conducting necessary and appropriate investigations to the complainant’s satisfaction,” said health director-general Datuk Seri Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah on the kpkesihatan.com website, Tuesday.
He said the Private Healthcare Facilities and Services Act 1998 and its regulations required that private hospitals must outline procedures to deal with public grievances against the facilities and services provided.
“We would like to emphasise that healthcare should not be treated as a mere commodity and should closely adhere to ethical principles by both private hospitals and professionals,” he said.
The Ministry monitors the maximum fees charged for both registered medical and dental practitioners in private hospitals under the Thirteenth Schedule of the Private Healthcare Facilities and Services (Private Hospitals and Other Private Healthcare Facilities) Regulations 2006.
“They are required to adhere to this schedule in charging professional fees such as for consultation and procedures performed,” Dr Noor Hisham said.
He, however, said that admission fees, laboratory investigations, nursing care, use of equipment and operation room, medicines and other fees were not regulated.
For this reason, the total cost of medical treatment at private hospitals was relatively more expensive than a public hospital, which was highly subsidised, he added.
Any complaints can be made to the Director, Medical Practice Division, Health Ministry, Level 3, Block E1, Complex E, 62590 Putrajaya or Tel: 03-8883 1302; Fax: 03-8883 1328 or Email: [email protected]