Malaysia’s Ministry of Health (MOH) has stressed that patient safety and infection control has always been their priority, with the full commitment of delivering quality medical services. This comes after recent reports alleged government hospitals are forced to reuse single-use and disposable devices due to a limited allocated budget.
“MOH would like to inform that all of the consumables and single-use medical devices utilised for patient with Blood Borne diseases are disposed after single use,” said Datuk Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah, Director General of Health, in a press statement released on 25 October.
He added that the MOH has published specific guidelines – Policies and Procedures on Infection Control – in relation to this. Healthcare professionals are also expected to adhere to this guideline in their clinical practice.
Reprocessing certain single-use medical devices a common practice
Majority of consumables and single-use medical devices are disposed after single use for other patients. However, some of these devices are used more than once, after undergoing “reprocessing via thorough cleansing and sterilisation processes”.
Datuk Dr Noor Hisham stated that this method is commonly practised among developed countries such as United States (US), European Union, as well as member countries under the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD). The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has also listed 229 single-use devices known to be reprocessed or considered for reprocessing, he noted.
He also refuted the correlation of this practice with health financing or budget issues, adding that private health facilities in Malaysia have also been practising reprocessing methods as a norm as well.
He cited a preliminary survey conducted by the Medical Device Authority (MDA) that observes this practice in Malaysian public and private hospitals. It revealed a 37% out of 40 private hospitals surveyed reuse and reprocess single-use devices, as practised in MOH hospitals.
MOH: Patient safety with infection control is of utmost priority
It has always been the uttermost priority to “prevent harm to patients”, and this is reflected in “the patient safety culture (that) is now stronger than ever in MOH," expressed Dr Noor Hisham.
Since the Medical Device Act (Act 737) came into effect in 2012, medical devices are now better regulated in Malaysia.
In the meantime, “MDA (referring to Medical Device Authority) is in the process of drafting a holistic guideline and policy on reprocessing of medical device, by drawing expert opinions and best practices as practiced in United States, Canada, Australia and EU Nations for reprocessing of single-use medical device,” he asserted. This process will take into consideration all kind of factors, with the core emphasis on patient safety.
In terms of infection control, the local Healthcare Associated Infection (HCAI) has improved greatly over years, due to “proactive and comprehensive infection control measures and patient safety program at MOH health facilities”.
“The MOH would like to reiterate its full commitment towards delivering high quality healthcare services, delivered at reasonable cost and accessible to all,” he concluded, and “patient safety will remain at the core of all MOH services and will not be compromised.
Allegations urged for a better review of the healthcare budget for 2018
Despite MOH reassuring that the reprocessing of single-use medical devices has “no correlation with health financing or budget issue”, an MP has stressed that it is also essential to highlight the challenges of government hospitals due to a lack of funding.
Kulai MP Teo Nie Ching said that one of the biggest complaints was “the patients were told that if they wanted the tests done fast, they could go to private hospitals to do these blood tests,” she elaborated.
She also brought up allegations of government hospital doctors referring patients for treatment to private medical facilities and faulty machines left in a state of disrepair.
In relation to recent events, she stressed that important considerations should also be made with reprocessing of single-use medical devices, as the process may not entirely guarantee that all tissue, blood and body residues have been completely removed. There are also concerns over the deterioration of their performance after first use. MIMS
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