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Dengue: Private doctors must protect themselves

PETALING JAYA, 17 June 2009: The Federation of Private Medical Practitioners’ Association of Malaysia (FPMPAM) is urging all private clinics to report even suspected cases of dengue to the nearest District Health Office.

“This is best so that doctors will not be exposed to the very severe consequences in the form of a fine, jail term and/or the possibility of law suits,” FPMPAM president Dr Steven Chow said in a statement today.


Dr Chow (Courtesy of FPMPAM)
He was responding to the Health Ministry’s warning that doctors who failed to report dengue cases to the ministry would be fined RM10,000 or jailed for two years.

Dr Chow said doctors should send all patients with fever to the nearest government hospital or healthcare facility for further tests, even when the clinical diagnoses were uncertain, or when doctors were unable to exclude dengue as the cause of fever.

It is sometimes not possible to diagnose dengue immediately, especially in its early stages, since the symptoms are similar to that of other viral infections.

“Specific blood tests do not become positive until after the second or third day of the illness in the majority of cases,” Dr Chow said.

FPMPAM’s advisory to private clinics follows its earlier statement that questioned whether the public health system could cope if all cases of viral fever were reported to it.

The Health Ministry and the association have traded criticism over who is to blame for the continuing war on dengue, which some experts believe is more of a threat than the swine flu or A(H1N1) virus.

Health Minister Datuk Seri Liow Tiong Lai and Health director-general Tan Sri Dr Ismail Merican have blamed private clinics for not diagnosing dengue patients early enough. FPMPAM has retorted by laying blame on the “lack of political will” to eradicate dengue.

Dr Chow said most cases of dengue “usually [end] as a mild disease with spontaneous recovery”.

A minority of cases, however, progressed to hemorrhagic fever and to Dengue Shock Syndrome. Dr Chow said these advanced cases were unpredictable and could occur in hospitalised patients on standard treatment.

Dr Chow advised patients and family members not to seek traditional and unproven treatment which could worsen the illness.

FPMPAM, which has over 4,000 members and comprises seven state-level associations of private medical practitioners, said doctors could report cases to their nearest District Health Office by downloading the prescribed form, Borang Health 1 Rev 2001, at www.fpmpam.org or www.dph.gov.my.

Ismail last week said that Malaysia was losing the war against dengue, with 57 deaths recorded between January and June 2009. He added that it was because private medical practitioners did not report all suspected cases.

FPMPAM said the number of dengue fever cases throughout the country dropped considerably between 7 and 13 June with 630 new cases reported, compared with the 719 cases reported the week before. No deaths were reported this week.

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One Response to “Dengue: Private doctors must protect themselves”

  1. joepublic says:

    I am surprised that the public has not reacted to the DG’s and health minister’s blanket instructions/veiled threat to doctors and hospitals, which will see many patients worry unnecessarily and at the same time, waste tax payer’s funds during this time of economic crisis.


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