S’porean Man’s Friend Claimed Johor’s Largest Hospital Didn’t Provide Treatment Unless Paid Upfront
3rd Sep 2017 update: Our original story was based on the comments by the victim’s friend, Joshua De Rozario. He was there at the scene and his comments were published by STOMP. Joshua later appeared to have backtracked on what he said and perhaps said some of his statements in an emotional state as he had just witnessed his friend pass away. He told The Straits Times that communication barriers may have resulted in the miscommunication.
So bear this in mind when reading this article. It was based on Joshua’s original statements, which are not indicative of Malaysia’s emergency services. You can read MOH Malaysia’s full statement here that clarifies the whole incident.
Accident & emergency departments (A&E) in hospitals are oftentimes the front line venue for delivering emergency medical care.
A&Es determine the priorities of patients’ treatments based on the severity of their conditions. We would imagine that being the victim of a hit and run ranks pretty high on the “need immediate medical attention” scale.
However, this was allegedly not the case for Sultanah Aminah Hospital, Johor Bahru’s largest medical facility. After a group of Singaporeans were hit by a car, it was alleged by a witness that staff insisted on receiving payment first, before proceeding with medical treatment.
As a result of their alleged misplaced priorities, Singaporean Justinian Tan, 25, succumbed to his injuries on early Wed morning (30 Aug) — or so his friend reported.
Singaporeans blindsided by car after supper in JB
After catching up over a round of lok lok at a coffee shop near New York Hotel at Jalan Dato Abdullah Tahir, the group of friends were on their way back to their car when a Proton Saga rammed into them from behind.
The car sent Justinian Tan (third from left) flying and struck Brandon Yeo (white) before driving off.
Joshua De Rozario, who was also part of the group, told Stomp that he immediately went to check on Brandon before noticing Justinian unconscious and convulsing. As his friend struggled to breathe and coughed out blood, Joshua provided basic first aid as passersby contacted the authorities and an ambulance.
Victim’s friends thought ambulance had “taken their time”
Ernest Lee, another from the group, expressed his frustrations to Channel NewsAsia over the slow response of Malaysian authorities.
He mentioned that they had to wait between 20 to 30 minutes before his friends were sent to the nearest medical facility.
We were terribly frustrated and angered because they just took their time.
A check on Google Maps revealed that the site of the accident and Sultanah Aminah Hospital were merely 5km apart. On average, runners are able to cover that distance in the same amount of time it took for the ambulance to reach the scene.
2 alternative routes by car were provided showing that a duration of only 9 minutes was required to travel between both places.
3rd Sep 2017 update: The statement by Malaysia’s Director General of Health Datuk Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah, noted an emergency call was made at 2.57am and an ambulance was dispatched at 2.59am, reaching the accident scene at 3.10am. This means it took just 11 minutes to arrive, and not the 20-30 minutes as Ernest had estimated.
In addition to their woes, Joshua had the following to say about the authorities’ handling of the situation:
The police in JB asked us to clean up the bloodstains on the road.
Furthermore, the accident scene was apparently not cordoned off.
Still, with those involved sent to Johor’s biggest hospital, surely things would start to look up for them now right?
Upon reaching Sultanah Aminah Hospital, the group was allegedly told that they were required to settle payment for the victims before any action would be taken.
According to Stomp, they were asked to pay RM1,350 (S$430) per victim upfront before the hospital would take any futher action.
As they didn’t have enough cash at the moment, the group had to seek out an ATM to settle the RM2,700 fees. The entire process took 4 hours before a prognosis was given.
Bear in mind that throughout, Justinian was in a critical condition.
4 hours after the initial fee was stumped up, the hospital requested for an additional RM1,350 to perform surgery on him because his brain was bleeding.
Furthermore, Joshua had added that the surgery would’ve been conducted by a medical officer, instead of a surgeon.
It was at this point where the group promptly decided that they were being screwed over and contacted the Singapore embassy instead, who arranged for a private ambulance to send the victims to hospitals in Singapore.
Justinian was declared brain dead on Monday (28 Aug), before his family decided to turn off his life support after being in a coma for five days.
Every second counts especially in a life-threatening situation and a professional facility such as Sultanah Aminah should know how to respond in such a situation. So based on Joshua’s statements, it is mind boggling that the very people trusted to save lives behaved in such a manner.
The amount of time wasted both by the authorities and the hospital could’ve proved to be the difference between life and death.
Apparently, this is not uncommon behaviour for Malaysian medical personnel, as shared by Nor Hariyani and Cassidy Gan.
While it is unfair to make comparisons of the standard of healthcare between both countries, no amount of money can ever be compared to one’s life.
Perhaps this post by a mutual friend of the deceased summarises how most are feeling over this incident.
While we aren’t directly blaming authorities in Malaysia for causing Justinian’s death, we still believe that more could’ve been done to save the 25-year-old’s life.
We urge all our readers to always take extra precautions when travelling to Johor Bahru and any other countries.
Our deepest condolences to his family.