Health Minister’s statement
that “medical mistakes inevitable” most regrettable as hospitals should be
required to have “zero-negligence” policy to avoid repetition of ordeals
like Yok Shan losing her left forearm or having a pair of forceps left in
abdomen after an operation
2008 Budget Debate Speech
by Lim Kit Siang
The Health Minister, Datuk Seri
Dr. Chua Soi Lek’s statement in the press yesterday that “medical mistakes
are inevitable” however careful the doctors are is most regrettable and
must be deplored by all MPs as it is tantamount to giving a blank cheque
for hospital negligence endangering lives and welfare of the people
seeking medical treatment.
We claim to want to be a first-world developed nation which is not matched
by a first-world mentality and mindset, such as making an important
distinction between mistakes and negligence in hospital. The former is
understandable and acceptable but the latter, i.e. negligence, is totally
unacceptable and unforgivable.
Tragic cases like the baby girl Lai Yok Shan who lost her left forearm
because of a chain of negligence at the Tengku Ampuan Rahimah Hospital in
Klang or a private hospital nurse Kalaiyarasi Perumal, 44, who went
through the nightmare of a pair of forceps left in her abdomen after an
operation at the Sultan Aminah Hospital in Johor Baru cannot be accepted
as unavoidable incidents.
Yok Shan was born two months premature on July 23, 2007 and kept in an
incubator and on a ventilator. When her condition deteriorated, it was
decided to give her strong antibiotics which could only be administered
A trainee doctor who received instructions over the telephone from the
specialist doctor on duty administered the injection. The trainee doctor
inserted the needle into muscles and tissues instead of blood vessel in
the arm. This caused the baby’s arm to be infected.
It is clear that there is a chain of irresponsibility and negligence
resulting in Yok Shan having to lose her arm, involving the trainee
doctor, the specialist doctor, the Tengku Ampuan Rahimah Hospital, the
Ministry of Health and even the panel of medical specialists announced by
Chua on August 9 to save Yok Shan’s left arm.
This was because Lai’s parents were told that Yok Shan would undergo an
operation expected to last from two to four hours to amputate her left
arm, but in actual fact, no amputation was needed as the blackened arm
came off when the orthopedic surgeon lifted and turned it.
Although the Health Ministry has admitted liability for Lai Yok Shan
losing her left forearm, the Minister should give a full account in
Parliament as to how such hospital negligence could occur, as this is a
matter of public interest and not just a private matter between the
Ministry and the Lai family concerned – furthermore we want to ensure that
there will not be a recurrence of such negligence.
Hospital negligence has destroyed the life of Yok Shan who will have to
live with this man-made disaster in a life-span of 70 to 80 years. I call
on the Health Minister to ensure that the government pays a proper
compensation to Yok San – not a paltry sum of RM60, 000 that is now being
Religious teacher Bashah Mustaffa who was given HIV-contaminated blood
during a transfusion in Jitra Hospital seven years ago has been awarded
RM450, 000 by the Alor Star High Court and is appealing against the
The Health Minister and the Attorney-General should do justice to Yok
Shan’s tragedy caused by the shocking negligence of the Klang hospital
personnel with a compensation of at least RM2 million.
Opposition Leader, MP for Ipoh Timur & DAP Central Policy and Strategic
Planning Commission Chairman