Saturday, June 18, 2011

On a more serious note, a letter of complaint

We are so happy with our newborn baby daughter Leah, but the whole process of being in the hospital was a horrible couple of days where the service was awful. I wasn't happy at all so I had to complain. Upon reaching home, I formed this letter which I emailed to the Malaysian Ministry of Health and to HTAA (Hospital Tengku Ampuan Afzan), the hospital in Kuantan where Fidelia gave birth:

To Whom It May Concern,

My wife gave birth to a beautiful baby girl in the early hours of Wednesday 15th June, 2011, at HTAA, Kuantan. But, I'm sad to relate, we endured one inconvenience or problem after another. It was an awful two days at the hospital as we witnessed outrageous unprofessionalism in the vast majority of staff we encountered.

I was absolutely appalled and shocked at some of the antics of nurses there.

It all started when my wife was admitted to the hospital on Tuesday night/Wednesday morning due to painful and consistent contractions. While I waited outside the screening room I was not informed by any staff about the progress of my wife. I was waiting for a good two hours, completely in the dark as to my wife's condition. Nobody made any effort whatsoever to update me on events. Eventually, after hearing screams coming from the room, and becoming increasingly worried, I went to ask a nurse what was going on. She couldn't even answer me, probably because of poor English, so the male doctor came out to tell me that my wife is going to be sent to the labour room right away!

After exiting the ambulance I walked beside my wife's bed, doing all within my power to comfort her. It turned out that the baby's head was already protruding, even while she was still in the screening room in a different building! Why did it take so long to get my wife to the labour room, and for the ambulance to arrive from just around the corner?

As we made our way to the delivery room, none of the two accompanying nurses attempted to communicate with me to describe my wife's condition. I was left to walk into walls and the nurses showed complete disregard for me when they allowed the double doors to close right in my face! It was as if I didn't even exist to them!

My wife was in labour and the baby was on it's way out by the time we reached the labour room. Of course, I attempted to go in with her and I was told by a flurry of nurses and a male doctor that I wasn't allowed to enter. I pressed them as to why but was offered no satisfactory explanation! Instead the nurses were laughing. I still don't know what was so funny. The male doctor was rather rude as well, when I heard him remark "What's his problem?" as the doors were closing. I clearly heard it and asked him what he just said, but he flatly denied saying anything. I refused to leave the labour hall and after two minutes they told me I could come in, where a few minutes later my wife gave birth to our daughter.

No sooner had the baby come out than I was once again told to leave my wife's side without any type of explanation at all. For 45 minutes I waited outside with no update or explanation by any nurse whatsoever. What sort of treatment is this? The hospital pretends to be husband-friendly, but I can tell you from my experience, it is a complete joke. I was made to feel like a stranger off the street while my dear wife had to suffer without me. I am severely upset by this, as is my wife. There is absolutely nothing husband-friendly about this pathetic hospital!

Eventually after stitching was completed on my wife, I was able to accompany her to the ward. But the problems didn't stop there.

Later on Wednesday I brought along my parents and 3-year-old daughter to visit my wife and our newborn during the scheduled visiting hours. I soon learned that there is a supposed rule that children under 12 years of age are not allowed into the wards during visiting hours. I find this absolutely terrible and fail to understand the reason behind this ridiculous rule! I'm sad to say that Malaysia is decades behind the rest of the civilized world. A female Indian security guard kept pestering us, speaking to us In Bahasa Melayu, which of course, neither me, nor my parents can speak. She was determined to pull my 3-year-old daughter away from this special moment to visit her new baby sister. She had also been missing her mother a lot and was so excited to see her. We asked the guard why my 3-year-old can't be here to visit on numerous occasions but we were never given an explanation. So we completely refused and just ignored her. Eventually she left us in peace and later even had the cheek to tell us that the 'sister' (head nurse) was angry! I will tell you that I was more angry than any 'sister' at that time! But no-one came to tell my daughter to leave, so I'm wondering if such a foolish rule really exists?

The next day during my visit my wife informed me that the nurse who is supposed to be checking her blood pressure and other things, wasn't doing her job properly at all. She simply opened the book and wrote down an imaginary blood pressure and pulse without even checking! I was so shocked at the complete and utter unprofessionalism and negligence in this hospital! My wife was suffering from hypertension and a nurse is basically jeopardizing my wife's health by guessing her blood pressure! How can this be? I approached some senior nurses on the ward to complain about this. They called over the nurse in question and she denied my allegations. I pressed her about it and told her she was lying. Then she had nothing to say and quickly went off to check my wife's blood pressure properly.

I have no words left to describe how shocked I am about this nurse's awful negligence of my wife's health on ward Melor 1B The nurse in question was (name withheld). I am disgusted at her lazy attitude to this most important work. A hospital is supposed to protect the health of its patients but in this case it was jeopardizing their health! It's just not good enough and I demand there to be a full and thorough investigation into this serious matter. (Name withheld) also invented mysterious figures when checking my newborn baby too! As I've said, this is completely outrageous! There is absolutely no excuse to not properly check a patient's health.

As to whether my complaint has reached a more senior figure in Ward Melor 1B, I have no idea. That is why I'm bringing this entire case to the Ministry of Health and to the HTAA hospital in Kuantan. I am severely unhappy and dissatisfied with the appalling service we have received, and would like to see some action taken so that no nurses like (name withheld) are allowed to continue putting patients health at such great risk.

Yours Faithfully,

Duncan D. Horne

Am I being too fussy? Do I even have an argument here? I was very upset with the dire effort of service we received, so I lodged this formal complaint. Surely we shouldn't have to tolerate such negligence and rudeness when it comes to our health!

What say ye?


  1. Firstly Duncan, congratulations on your new baby.

    And secondly, you should bring this matter to the minister. It's such a shame. Yours isnt the first case I've heard of. In fact, I've also experienced a few reckless nurses at some government hospitals. When I questioned a nurse (during a time when my gran was in the Ipoh hosp), she literally told me that if i had wanted better treatment i should head to the private hospitals. Can you imagine ?? Well, I snapped then, and she regretted saying it.

    The state of our hospitals really sad, and it gets me real mad.

    Private hospitals are good though, I must say. Better nurses and doctors.

  2. Did you shout at that damn nurse.
    You should.

  3. Duncan, welcome to the Malaysian standard of service! It is a service the government tells us is second to none in the world, but one we long suffering Malaysians know better. But of course, the government knows better and whatever it says, who are we to contradict? If we are not happy, they will tell us, we could go back to tiongsan (China) for the Chinese, or to India for the Indians. But I don't know where the Malays are supposed to go back to_- Yunnan? You see, it seems that civil servants here can do just about anything they want, serve you in whatever way they want because even if there are rules or regulations, who are going to enforce them? A government job here is a sinecure and nobody bothers a fart if they perform or not. You leave me alone and I leave you alone. Kita sama-sama cari makan.(We are in the same boat seeking a living, so don't rock the boat, or something like that lah). I sympathise with you and your family. It is disgraceful the type of service you get it from government departments and hospitals sometimes, or should I say often times? I am not too sure if they will bother too much about your compliant. More likely they will give you the go-around and just lay the blame on a misunderstanding, but not on themselves. Malaysians are fed-up with the government and the only way to rectify the bad service is to vote out the ruling Barisan coalition and give the opposition coalition Pakatan a chance to run the show.

  4. Duncan, I am so sorry that you had to suffer such a distressing experience all round, during which should have been a happy occasion for you all. You have done just the right thing by sending off this letter, and I just hope that it will be taken seriously and that the whole incident will be thoroughly investigated. Do let us know the outcome of all this. Meanwhile, I hope that mum and baby are still doing well.

  5. Arghhh! more and more reason why I don't want to work in Malaysia! and I'm going to work in a government hospital within 1 year. I always hear complains about nurses and doctors. Sometimes I think it's because they're tired and overworked. But the government aren't doing anything to improve our services either, instead, they just give the doctors (especially junior doctors) overtime! and said that it's for better, more practice, better performances! and yet we still hear complains like this. How can a person who didn't get 48 hours of sleep can perform?

    I'm studying here and I've never seen doctors look tired and overworked. And yet they still perform and look after the patients carefully. Sadly to say, most of the doctors and nurses aren't sincere about their work. Some of them are forced by parents. I've seen a lot from my friends. That's why this is happening.

    It's so sad to see Malaysia this way. Beautiful country, crappy services, sad mentality.

  6. I completely agree with you, Duncan. The attitude of the personnel you just described, was unbearable and outrageous, I agree.

    The problem is that not only the cultures but the systems too are too different. On the other hand, there are 2 problems here, in my opinion. One has to do with hospital regulations, if they have something like this, and the other one with personnel professionalism and attitude.

  7. Duncan, if past experience is anything to go by, they will probably ignore your letter of complaint, especially since it was addressed to 'whom it may concern' And since the letter was written in English, they will maybe just throw it into the waste-paper basket since there is an written or unwritten rule, if I am not mistaken, that letters addressed to government departments and ministries must be written in the Malay language. But if they come to know that you have publicised the matter in your blog, maybe, just maybe, they might go through some kind of wayang (show). But at the end of the day, everything will go back to 'situation normal', if you know what I mean. Sad, very sad. But it is a reality here, because there is no political will to something to improve public service. And nobody here takes kindly to criticism no matter how justified or constructive it may be.

  8. First my congratulations for the birth. Second support your complaint. In these important moments should have more consideration and professionalism. Saludos.

  9. Congratulations on your daughter, but that is terrible! Send the letter and contact every official possible.

  10. Congrats to you and your wife, Duncan. Yes, I agree that government hospitals have poor services. I've heard tons of complaints from friends and relatives regarding their services and attitudes. If we want a good service, we'll have to go to private hospitals. I once went to Sentosa Hospital in Kuala Lumpur, nurses there are really friendly and helpful. What we pay is what we get.

  11. Thank you for all of your lengthy feedback. I'm glad I'm not alone in feeling crazily mad at the government hospitals here. I've also written a letter to The Star newspaper here in Malaysia.

  12. @Anna, being overworked doesn't give one the right to be rude or not doing one's job well. If one can't cope with the work, one should just leave the service or find some alternative. @Eve, the government has failed us Malaysians. We should not give in to the blackmail that if you want good service you should pay for it by going to private hospital. Private hospital treatment is not cheap and not many can afford it. What convenient nonsense from the government! It is the government's duty to look after the rakyat. If you are running a hospital, run it well. We have enough resources and money if only the government runs the country's wealth properly instead of squandering billions bailing out crony companies and being fiscally irresponsible. Note the billions lost to corruption and irresponsible spending by government departments yearly, paying Rm 5k for a carjack that should cost only Rm 50 for example! @Duncan, has the Star newspaper published your complaint? Hope so, but I guess there may be a lot of truncating if it did.

  13. Congratulations on your baby! Sorry to hear about the bad hospital experience. Found your blog via my dad RJR
    Worth Remembering

  14. Hi Duncan. you can contact TV3 to express your dissatisfaction with the government hospital by phone or you can also go directly to TV3 Kuantan office in front of the Berjaya Megamall Kuantan. This is the fastest way to get your complaint heard, trust me.

    Malaysian in Germany.

  15. Rachel, welcome to my blog, I follow your dad's often!

    Anonymous, thanks for the advice.

    Ordinary Malaysian, you are absolutely spot on with your comments. I agree completely, but will Malaysians grievances ever be answered? I doubt it right now because I think the vast majority of Malaysians will just accept whatever service is thrown at them and adopt the 'never mind' attitude! I wish something could be done. Your comments about government and private hospitals is so true. I couldn't afford going private for the birth but that doesn't mean I expect a load of rubbish at a government hospital.

    My letter has not been publishe din The Star newspaper yet; I'll be looking out for it tomorrow. Though I do suspect it may be watered down considerably that it might not properly sound like my letter any more! We'll see..

  16. Hi Duncan .. I sure hope you get an answer .. that must have been a worrying time. It seems both are well now .. look after yourselves and enjoy the last few days with your parents.

    All the very best - Hilary

  17. Congratulation on your 2nd daughter..but not all of the government hospital have poor service..i used to gave birth to my daughter at government hospital in temerloh and i satisfied with their services..

  18. Congrats & well donen.... No , you are not fussy, u did the right thing!

    I remember when I gave birth to Isaiah at a private medical center in Subang Jaya, everything was fine, doctors & nurses around were very nice. but only 1 peadiatrician. They charged according to daily basis - 3 visits/check up on baby. But on the last day, she didnt turn up but still wanted to charge me full payment & I questioned the management staff there & they just told me: no, the doctor is not coming, but the doctor will still charge full payment.
    I told them that's not fair. how could she charge me full but didnt perform her the end she had no choice and came back to the medical center.
    I was not culculative, but i just felt like being treated unfair/cheated.

    Sorry that you & family had to go thru such painful experience. If I were you, I would have screamed at them, 1st for being rude, & irresponsible another word (tidak mengapa attitude). and the worst part was not being informed about what's going on. But You really have to make the 1st move to ask in the future, dont wait for them to inform you.

    So you did the right thing. At least they should know their problems and improve to provide better service.

  19. Hi there,congratulations for your beautiful bundle of joy,first of all. But, moving on to the service issue,i've got to say,sadly,these kind of things will continue to happen on and on unless the politicians did something for it. Hell,even middleclass malaysian like me wont opt for the government hospital for giving birth. Just so you know,my cousin had a terrible experience in Putrajaya herself. From the snobbish houseman (of whom didnt realise he was making a fool of himself,patronising a succesful anesthesiologist like latter was a lowly clerk layman) to the rude indonesian cleaner (she dared to pack up the food my cousin havent even opened! i saw this while the cousin is taking a shower,so i told the cleaner off. but of course,she dared to scold me back,reasoning that 'uneaten food is such a waste' *insert an ugly pouting face here* wow,the nerve of hers. i was told by other new mums,her and few friends dared to do this because their supervisor could care less,as they were not subjected to the hospital itself),we could see that they were just unhappy to be there and we(visitors and patients) were such a nuisance to deal with. And dont let me start on the nurses. My cousin was there for like a month (kidney complications),and since i came like almost everyday,they expected me to be the expert caretaker of her. Any question would be replied with sarcastic remarks ('it's been a week,right? you should've known how to do that' like im the one getting paid for it) if not the 'pfft's. My cousin was not a complainer,so i dont feel like lodging any report,as i was there only as a visitor. But i can only be nice for so much time. I confronted the same nurse (after she made a remark that my cousin was wasting the blood packets-because her body had problems taking it in)by asking her name,of which suddenly she turned on her nice-and-friendly mode. she refused at first,giggling off-pitched 'why would you need to know' and 'tak payah lah', but i just pulled forward the nametag she was pinning to her chest-pocket and take a picture of it. These people,unless you lodge a threatening complain- or pretend,like i did to the nurse,will continue treating you like turd. And yes,everyone noticed that particular nurse started being so sickeningly sweet and treated everyone like royalties all of sudden,and they have yet to know about my little stunt at that time.

    Sorry for the long rant,but next time,just go for the privates. Saves your sanity,trust me. Or if you still need to go to the gomen's, take a picture of how they are running things,like the lady i met in the surau told me. Everyone will start doing things carefully,because they know we meant business.

  20. Hilary, I'm still awaiting any type of response.

    Nora, you're right, there are some instances of good service, but none of them seem to occur in Kuantan!

    Angelyne and Nina, it's terrible some of the things they can get away with. But I'm determined that if, or when, it ever happens to me again, they most certainly will not be getting away with it!


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