Docs: New law is ‘criminal’

  • Nation
  • Monday, 19 Jun 2006

KUALA LUMPUR: Doctors opposing a new law, that provides, among other things, hefty fines for offences, said it made them appear like criminals. 

Said one doctor about the recently-introduced Private Healthcare Facilities and Services Act 1998 and Regulations (2006): 

“Even the Companies Act does not punish anyone this badly.” 

Under the new law, doctors are liable to fines of up to RM300,000 or a jail term of up to six years, or both, if they fail to license or register their clinics. 

There was also a provision for private medical clinics and private dental clinics to have a system to deal with basic emergency services.  

The doctors also said the precise requirements for the size of a clinic, its doors, ceiling height and matters relating to the design of the clinic were troublesome. 

They fear that they would face huge penalties for falling short of even a few centimetres on the measurements.  

The doctors voiced their grouses about the Act at a forum, organised by the Federation of Private Medical Practitioners Associations Malaysia (FPMPAM) here yesterday. 

More than 100 doctors attended the event. 

FPMPAM president Dr Steven Chow said the regulation was dangerous in its current form, as it opened the door for widespread litigation in the future. 

“We cannot expect a doctor who has not practised emergency care to be reasonably competent in dealing with patients requiring such care. It would be akin to asking a skin doctor to read an electro-cardiogram.” 

He said the association has gotten the Health Ministry to agree to give all clinics a one-year grace period from November this year to carry out the provisions of the Act. 

Dr Chow added that the ministry had also accepted the association’s proposal that the basic emergency services provision would only apply to clinics providing primary care and voluntary clinics accredited by the ministry. 

The ministry’s Medical Practice Division director Dr Mohd Khairi Yakub said the precise physical requirements was to provide for good patient flow and ventilation. 

Regarding concerns of doctors being dragged to court, he said the ministry’s law enforcers would look at the matter on a case-by-case basis.  

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