Thursday, November 25, 2010

Change is Overrated


Barrack Obama won the presidency by promising  that change would come to America. Come 2012, Americans will decide how much of that change really worked for them. Change is a powerful word, it excites, incites, and depending on the scale on which it is initiated, would garner some kind of reaction or another.

Change can prove to be positive or negative, create waves, give birth to a revolution ( on a macro scale), alter the way people think, encourage innovation, and a whole load of other things. But sometimes change is unnecessary, and that's what my rant is about.

I have a particular dislike for people who want to change something merely for the sake of change itself. If something is good, why change it? But don't tell a change monger that, they will not see your point of view, or pretend not to.

One thing about change mongers though, they don't give much thought about how workable their idea is, all they want to do is implement it and have their name on the plaque! Once the winds of change have a sour air about it, they will be out of the door in no time.

I believe change should only be implemented when it will prove of benefit, and not irritate and confuse everyone involved. New bosses are prime candidates for implementing unnecessary change. I once worked at a publication where my colleagues and I had the misfortune of having to contend with a new editor who was a change monger.

This person wanted to change our editorial process, the way we worked, the way we thought, in short she wanted to change EVERYTHING. The fact that we worked well as a team despite being severely short-staffed and still managed to meet our editorial deadlines was not taken into consideration.

Interestingly she could not provide a good reason for changing systems and processes that had worked so well for the team up to that point. All she wanted to do was to change it. Yet for all her prating, she failed to inspire confidence in her agenda. Why? because all she had was a couple of abstract ideas that did not seem workable. In the end the only thing she ended up changing, was that all of us started actively job hunting!

Leaving a legacy?

Some people want to change things in the interest of progress, they are visionaries, these are people who will be lauded long after they are gone. Then there are those who want to initiate change to carve out a legacy for themselves. These are egomaniacs, we will be wagging our finger at them long after the weeds have made a permanent home around their tombstone.

Hmm for some reason Anwar Ibrahim comes to mind. I don't care who he sodomised or did not sodomise. My ire against him is solely reserved for what he did during his tenure as Education Minister. We have him to thank for KBSR and KBSM ( lame ass education system that does not encourage students to think), and for screwing up our term holidays. One moment our end of the term holidays were in December, then he changed it to November and then back again to December. Boy were we guinea pigs in his hands!

One wonders what massive changes he would have brought upon us, if he had become the 5th Prime Minister. Well there's room yet for that I imagine......Erm for now Anwar can be rest assured that thanks to him Malaysians will never see sodomy or a black eye in the same light again.

Another person who tried to create a legacy and failed is the man we dearly call Pak Lah. He started of as "Mr Clean" and ended up as "Bapa Batik" as he was seen officiating at one too many batik functions.

All in all Pak Lah will definitely be remembered for doing things no other Prime Minister has done in office to date. Dozing off at official functions, losing a wife to cancer and marrying another in record time and handing over five states to the opposition on a platter. Who says you need to be a genius to be remembered?

For some reason this post has turned political considering I am an apolitical person.Well I suppose that's because change mongers always have some sort of political agenda or another up their sleeves.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Horror Hospitals

Does any real healing take place in a Malaysian government hospital? does it? really? if you are one of the lucky few who has had the good fortune of being well taken care of in one of these hospitals - you rank in the minority and should consider yourself darn lucky.

The following cases of negligence at public hospitals which was splashed across the press, generated tonnes of negative publicity for the hospitals concerned and resulted in civil suits.
  • The case of baby Lai Yok Shan who lost her left forearm because of negligence by doctors at the Tengku Ampuan Rahimah Hospital in Klang. Her parents have since filed an RM2 million suit against the government.

  • Fourty nine days after undergoing a hysterectomy surgery, private hospital nurse Kalaiyarasi Perumal discovered that a pair of forceps had been left in her stomach by the surgical team at the Sultanah Aminah Hospital in Johor Baru.

  • Former Quran teacher Bashah Mustaffa sued the government over the HIV-contaminated blood she received during a transfusion at the Jitra Hospital.

  • Rozita Haron@ Choo Kim Koon claimed RM250,000 against the Sultanah Aminah Hospital in Johor Baru for negligence after its staff left a needle in her vagina during delivery in 1995.

  • The parents of V.Monishaa, 15, alleged that the negligent attitude of two medical officers at the Sultan Abdul Halim Hospital resulted in the death of their daughter from meningitis sepsis.

That which I have listed above is a mere five, but there are more, lots more. If I had taken the trouble to Google it all up, this post would have to be written as part one and two!

Various excuses have been given on the part of hospital authorities and the government - doctors make mistakes too, the hospitals are overcrowded and the staff overworked and so on and so forth. We have also been constantly reassured via stories in the media that the government is building more hospitals, getting more equipment, recruiting more staff, hiring foreign doctors etc.

But has anyone read stories in the press that the Health Minister or the government has vowed to kick someone's ass or let heads roll the next time they hear of a negligence of gargantuan proportions at  public hospitals? instead of forming lame ass committees to investigate what happened each time something goes terribly wrong? obviously NO. If they did, perhaps the staff at these hospitals, at whatever level they function, would take their jobs more seriously.

Being overworked is not a good excuse. People in other professions are overworked too, can they use that as a reason to deliver substandard work? well if you work in the private sector, you would be slapped with a memo, demoted, suspended or worse still  fired for not performing up to par.

Yup I know it's the norm that not much can be expected from government departments and agencies. But when it comes to the health care sector its high time the powers that be, brandished the whip.

When you're dealing with people's lives there is no room for being lax. In my opinion the cases of negligence mentioned above, plus the ones that have gone unreported is all a result of the ATTITUDE of the staff at these hospitals. If they were good at what they did, and if they CARED, the poor patients under their care, would have fared better.

Our government can build top-notch hospitals with impressive new facilities, but if the medical personnel at these hospitals work like robots, don't think outside the box and don't give two hoots about doing a good job, more people will stand to lose their limbs, be wrongly diagnosed, find foreign objects in their internal organs and die - as has happened a fair bit.

A case in point is the Sultan Ismail Hospital in Johor Baru. Spanking new premises, supposedly has top-notch equipment etc. However based on general feedback and a rather sour experience of my brother's, it's worse than the Sultanah Aminah Hospital which itself has garnered quite a reputation in the sphere of medical negligence.

In the case of my brother and his friend who were involved in a car accident, they were made to wait for over an hour, despite groaning in pain ( my brother fractured two fingers while his friend had a shoulder injury). People who had come in with tummy aches and such were ushered in to see the doctor first. Considering it was the Accident & Emergency Department, should accident patients not be given priority?

When my mum asked if the boys could see the doctor soon considering their state of pain, she was told that as they could still walk they were obviously not badly hurt and could afford to wait. Do they not know that there have been people out there who have gotten up and walked after being involved in an accident, only to die a few days later because of internal bleeding?

Another thing that riled my mum was the red tape involved. My brother had a ring on one of his fractured fingers which had swelled up. He wanted the ring removed as it was painful. But guess what the medical officer said? She said they did not have the equipment to remove the ring, and thus on Monday ( my brother was at the hospital on Saturday night) they would write to the operating theater to borrow the equipment, and if permission was granted, then the ring could be removed. So brand new government specialist hospital does not have a set of pliers to remove a ring??

After an hour of extreme irritation, and after being told that his friend was fine enough to go home despite the sharp pain in his shoulder, my brother decided that seeing the doctor there would serve no purpose and decided to go to the Johor Specialist Centre. Upon arrival there, his ring was immediately removed, and after prompt treatment, they were warded.

The following day, they underwent surgery (my brother for his finger fractures, and his friend for his dislocated shoulder). The bill was certainly not cheap, but they are on the mend. They are the lucky ones who don't have to put up with poor treatment at public hospitals. But not everyone has options, it's those who are not financially able who usually become the victims of negligence at government hospitals.

Free service does not = poor service. All because it's cheap and free does not mean the rakyat has to put up with whatever government hospital staff choose to dish out. Call me cynical, but I doubt the current malaise that plagues our public health care system will be solved in the near future. The government can announce and announce of this measure and that measure. But in the end it will still not improve.

So what do we do? invest in insurance, get a medical card at the very least. Invest in your health and safety, because our government is not going to do that for you.