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Thread: Private services at University Malaya Medical Center

  1. #1
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    Private services at University Malaya Medical Center

    I need to see a Neurologist concerning tumors at my Brachial Plexus and the Phrenic Nerve. So I forwarded my MRI and report to the Neurologist who diagnosed me in 2002. She is now at Penang GH. She in turn forwarded them to her Neurologist colleagues and they recommended a simple chest x-ray which could tell if there is paralysis to my diagphram. If there is, then we will know whether the phrenic nerve has been impeded.

    I then asked my friend to help me call UMMC to make an appointment with the Neurologists there. but she was given two numbers to call again next week during clinic hours. One number was for public, and the other was for private.

    I have heard that UMMC has separated their services into two categories- one is called 'public' which is cheaper, and the other is 'private' which is more expensive but shorter waiting time. I also heard that doctors pay more attention to 'private' patients at the wards. I never liked the idea, which is discrimination against those with low income.

    As for my case right now, if I were to pay more in order to be seen faster at UMMC, why don't I go to Assunta Hospital where I am familiar with? The Neurologists at Assunta has seen me for regular NF-related check ups and their medical imaging facilities are excellent. Even my brachial plexus tumors were first discovered by the radiologists at Assunta so it would make more sense to go there.

    But I am curious still. I wonder whether services rendered to patients who pay the 'private' fees at UMMC are any better than private hospitals like Assunta? Is the 'private' services at UMMC worth it? Is it at par with
    private hospitals"?

    Initially, I thought visiting UMMC might save me some money. But with the double standard, I also fear that patients who opt for the low cost alternative may receive less than adequate treatment standards.

    What's your opinion? This thread was started for the sake of discussion.

  2. #2
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    Quote Originally Posted by yvonnefoong
    I have heard that UMMC has separated their services into two categories- one is called 'public' which is cheaper, and the other is 'private' which is more expensive but shorter waiting time. I also heard that doctors pay more attention to 'private' patients at the wards. I never liked the idea, which is discrimination against those with low income.

    What's your opinion? This thread was started for the sake of discussion.
    Yvonne - you are absolutely right... who said money cannot buy [ fill in the blanks ]... better facilities & equipment, shorter waiting periods, specialised skills, etc etc... all this can add up to a princely sum. My mom's 3 weeks in Gleneagles cost us 51k. (RM51,000+) But then again... I guess all the money cannot buy another mom, can it... ?

  3. #3
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    Quote Originally Posted by USJ27Resident
    Yvonne - you are absolutely right... who said money cannot buy [ fill in the blanks ]... better facilities & equipment, shorter waiting periods, specialised skills, etc etc... all this can add up to a princely sum. My mom's 3 weeks in Gleneagles cost us 51k. (RM51,000+) But then again... I guess all the money cannot buy another mom, can it... ?
    I don't understand what you are trying to say. Will you rephrase it?

  4. #4
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    It all depends on the specialist, think, whether you have the patent's best interest in mind. For e.g. my mum's oncologist (brest cancer) in UMMC is very responsible. She advice patients who see her at the 'private' section (shorter waiting time), who needs long term treatment to tranfer to the 'public' section due to the high cost. She will still be the doctor in charge of the patient in the 'public' secton. This was related to my mum by a nurse in UMMC. Actually, if I am not mistaken, the 'private' section consultation starts after normal office hours. Most UMMC docs are not $ crazy or they would just join a private hospital right? But then again there are also responsible docs in the private sector. My friend who was working in Tung Shin told me about this doc who stormed in to see her coz his operation time slot was moved to a later time/date. The reason he was upset was coz he told his patient the cost and if the op is delayed, there would be extra cost for the extra night stay.

  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by tictactoe
    It all depends on the specialist, think, whether you have the patent's best interest in mind. For e.g. my mum's oncologist (brest cancer) in UMMC is very responsible. She advice patients who see her at the 'private' section (shorter waiting time), who needs long term treatment to tranfer to the 'public' section due to the high cost. She will still be the doctor in charge of the patient in the 'public' secton. This was related to my mum by a nurse in UMMC. Actually, if I am not mistaken, the 'private' section consultation starts after normal office hours. Most UMMC docs are not $ crazy or they would just join a private hospital right? But then again there are also responsible docs in the private sector. My friend who was working in Tung Shin told me about this doc who stormed in to see her coz his operation time slot was moved to a later time/date. The reason he was upset was coz he told his patient the cost and if the op is delayed, there would be extra cost for the extra night stay.
    Wow! Thank you. If indeed the 'private' consultation starts after officer hours, then maybe it was merely introduced to improve the system. Nothing personal.

    Anyone has related experiences to share?

  6. #6
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    tictactoe: When you said that most doctors at UMMC are not moneyminded, it reminds me of a theory of mine. I always wonder if doctors leave their jobs at public hospitals because of the bureaucracy. This theory is based on my observations while being treated at KLGH. But this is just a theory, I have no proof. The last time I tried to express this by writing it out in my newstabloid column, the well-meaning editor refused to publish it unless I had concentrate proof.

    If it's indeed true, then there is a huge misunderstanding about doctors who leave publis service to join the private sector.

  7. #7
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    As far as I understood the situation at UH (this dual service was implemented a few years ago), I believe the "private" sessions after normal hospital hours is to allow the specialists to practice in a "private hospital" environment. Of course, it would also be allowing them to increase their income nearer to the renumerations due to them if they left the public service. Perhaps this is one solution in keeping the specialists to serve in public hospitals, otherwise they would have left.

    As I see it, this is a good arrangement. If you would not want to pay the "private hospital" fees, then go during normal working hours but be prepared to wait. I do not think there will be any compromise to their professional services. By the way, public hospitals do have good equipment, maybe even better than private hospitals

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by kwchang
    As far as I understood the situation at UH (this dual service was implemented a few years ago), I believe the "private" sessions after normal hospital hours is to allow the specialists to practice in a "private hospital" environment. Of course, it would also be allowing them to increase their income nearer to the renumerations due to them if they left the public service. Perhaps this is one solution in keeping the specialists to serve in public hospitals, otherwise they would have left.

    As I see it, this is a good arrangement. If you would not want to pay the "private hospital" fees, then go during normal working hours but be prepared to wait. I do not think there will be any compromise to their professional services. By the way, public hospitals do have good equipment, maybe even better than private hospitals
    Thank you. This tells me that I just need to pay higher consultation fees but the facility charges are probably the same. Most of the costs of my hospital visits come from running tests - MRI, NCS, Visual Field, x-rays etc

    At Assunta, the doctors charge a "professional fee" for running the Nerve Conduction Study on you.So we have to pay for the facility and the doctor for doing it.

    I wonder if the Private" secion of UMMC calculates like that.

  9. #9
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    I should mention that whenever I visited Assunta Hospital, I had specific purposes for visiting. Like, I need to get an MRI of the entire brain and spine every six months. I'd see the Neurologist who would order for the MRI. Once that is done, I'd mail the CD containing the MRI to my surgeons at House Clinic for their evaluation. Then, I won't see the Neurologist here anymore.

    But this time, I am concerned about my respiratory system which might require multi-disciplinary attention and might drag (ie. Neurology, Cardiology, Pulmonology) . I have noticed that doctors at public hospitals are less likely to recommend uneccesary procedures and they are more mindful that I have a genetic disorder involving the central nervous system and won't stray too far with their hypoethesis.

    So I'll be visiting UMMC to address this next concern of mine.

  10. #10
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    I don't know if this is a fair statement but my opinion is that in public hospitals they do what is required and go from there. Private hopitals tend to order the complete 'menu' of test cause it's easier than to explain to patients on extra test whch may be needed after the initial test. If they find something, well and good, if not no harm done. For example, during childbirth, how many caesarians are actually necessary? Gov hospitals may want you to try until it is really not possible to deliver natually before doing a C-section. Private practices may not advice you to 'try so hard' after all the end result is a safe delivery.

    There are many reasons why specialist leave government service - that itself would be a long discussion topic. But suffice to say, NOT ALL are after $. But of course, some are. Some of the best specialist in the country are in government service. For example, my mum's oncologist in UMMC, Prof Yip, if I am not mistaken, the top specialist in her field. Very,very dedicated. Ask around, the UM nursing sisters are usually very helpful and can advice you on the best person to see whether gov or private.

  11. #11
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    The private wing is called University Malaya Specialist Centre (UMSC). It is located at Jalan University further up the road towards the UM campus. It is supposed to operate like a private hospital. However certain procedures eg MRI still need to go to the main hospital (UMMC); but under the same conditions as UMSC i.e. after office hours and with shorter waiting time.

  12. #12
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    i hv nothing but praise for ummc

    yes , on your first visit, it may be tiring for the long waiting time, especially for outpatients, but once u r admitted as an inpatient, i hv yet to find any difference between treatment of private n public hospital. in fact, i believe treatment is much better then private hospital. i believe ummc hv all the latest facilities as it is the top teaching hospital in malaysia.

    i personnally hv 2 experiences with ummc.
    1, my son brain trumor n 2, my throat infection

    initially i also hv reservation like yourself about treatment in public hospital , but looking at my son case , now i would prefer to go to ummc for any treatment that required specialist treatment.

    let me tell u my case of throat infection.
    i went to a private clinic when there was a lump at my throat
    there they gave me some antibotics, with instruction that if there is no result on the 2nd day , i need to see an ent specialist.
    by the second day, my throat start swelling, so i went to ummc outpatient ent specialist clinic.
    after waiting for almost 2hrs, i finally manage to get examined by those houseman. on examination , they immediately call their boss(their professor) n i was straight away admitted,
    immediate treatment was administer once at the ward by the ent specialist.
    day 2 at ummc, ent found that the antibotic was not working n my throat is now swollen up till my whole face. immediately the infectious disease department was call upon to take over.(it was just like watching the telly, call cdc}

    what i m trying to say here is ummc is as good as any private hospital, in fact they r much better , as far as i m concern, moreover it is only a fraction of the cost

  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by tictactoe
    I don't know if this is a fair statement but my opinion is that in public hospitals they do what is required and go from there. Private hopitals tend to order the complete 'menu' of test cause it's easier than to explain to patients on extra test whch may be needed after the initial test. If they find something, well and good, if not no harm done. For example, during childbirth, how many caesarians are actually necessary? Gov hospitals may want you to try until it is really not possible to deliver natually before doing a C-section. Private practices may not advice you to 'try so hard' after all the end result is a safe delivery.

    There are many reasons why specialist leave government service - that itself would be a long discussion topic. But suffice to say, NOT ALL are after $. But of course, some are. Some of the best specialist in the country are in government service. For example, my mum's oncologist in UMMC, Prof Yip, if I am not mistaken, the top specialist in her field. Very,very dedicated. Ask around, the UM nursing sisters are usually very helpful and can advice you on the best person to see whether gov or private.
    If you are referring to Prof Yip Cheng Har, I believe she's not an oncologist but a breast surgeon (and, for the record, a very good and caring surgeon).

  14. #14
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    Yes, I am refering to her and she is an oncologist ( specialist in tumours/cancer) who specialize in breast cancer. My mum had breast cancer > 9 years ago and was/is under her care.

  15. #15
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    UMMC is better than private hospital -agreed.

    My family and I have used both private hospital in Subang Jaya and UMMC.
    We once spent a few months in UMMC after exhausting our funds with the private hospital.If there is serious illness that needs long term treatment, I would use UMMC. If it is a short treatment, then a private hospital is comfortable and convenient, as I live in Subang Jaya.

    If it is life threatening, go to UMMC, they are better equiped and better staffed (personal experience) to save your life. I am speaking from experience.Most private hospital,especially the "hotel looking type" treats themselves as an accomodation that has expert doctors consulting. Please read the hospital admission forms, take a copy of that and show that to a lawyer.
    A real hospital has an obligation to save lives, not treat themselves as a hotel that sublet rooms to doctors. When you exhausted your funds, you are no longer a desired customer, they WILL refer you to the public hospital , they will say 'for your own good'. UMMC is a real hospital and it is important for us to appreciate those doctors in public services serving us. They don't get paid very well compared to those in private hospital, however,their hearts are more genuine and sincere. I salute these doctors, and their skills are NOT below those that you visit in those in plush and private hospital.
    I know I sounded like I don't have much respect for those in private hospital, the truth is I don't .
    Last edited by Mat Bruce; 17-01-2010 at 09:37 PM. Reason: spelling

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