Friday,21 September, 2018
Current issue | Issue 1205, (10 - 16 July 2014)
Friday,21 September, 2018
Issue 1205, (10 - 16 July 2014)

Ahram Weekly

Patients better served

A new ministerial decree is regulating the treatment of patients at hospital emergency departments, reports Mai Samih

Al-Ahram Weekly

As a result of a recent ministerial decree, the government will pay for all patients’ 48-hour-long stays in hospital emergency departments. The decree will be applied to all hospitals in Egypt, whether public or private.

The decree was an amendment to a previous decision, issued in 2007, which stated that the first 24 hours of an emergency patient’s stay in a hospital would be at the expense of the government.

The Ministry of Health warned that any hospital that did not apply the decision would be subject to severe punishment, which could lead to its being closed down.

The decision, number 1063 of 2014, states that all government hospitals, university hospitals, public hospitals and private hospitals must receive accident and emergency patients and treat them free of charge for the first 48 hours, after which the patient is to be given the choice of either staying in the hospital at his/her own expense or going to the nearest public hospital.

Ahmed Kholeif, an advisor to the Minister of Health, said that “the decision is for critical patients. Paramedics are given orders to transfer an accident patient to the nearest public hospital, but if the patient is in a severe condition they are obliged to send him to the first private hospital they pass, otherwise they are liable to be punished by law. The Ministry of Health will then pay that patient’s bills.”

Abdel-Rahman Abed, the Head of the Umm Al-Masryeen Hospital, a public hospital in Giza, supported the decision.

“Public hospitals always receive patients, whether emergency cases or not, and I hope the private hospitals will now apply this decision. There should be some sort of supervision from the Health Ministry to guarantee that they abide by the decree, otherwise it could meet the fate of the 2007 decision.”

“In addition, the government should show its commitment to paying the bills if it wants hospitals to receive the patients. The fear is that some private hospitals may present the government with exaggerated bills. I believe that this decision should be applied only to accidents,” Abed said.

Kholeif said that measures would be introduced to prevent fraud. “There will be strict monitoring by the Health Ministry that will determine the expenses of medical services in emergency departments,” he said.

Omayma Saleh, the Head of the Emergency Room at the Giza International Hospital, a private hospital in Haram Street, said she wanted more information about the decision. “We would like more details as a plain statement is not enough. We need to know what kind of patients to accept. More details will clear the confusion,” she commented.

Amr Al-Sayed, a doctor in the Emergency Department of the Giza International Hospital, said the new decision was a sound one. “As a doctor, the new decision is no burden to me, as we are interested in the medical part, not the financial part. It makes no difference whether we work in a private hospital or a public one. The question is whether all hospitals are ready to receive such patients.”

“In developed countries, there is often an inclusive medical insurance system that does not require a patient to go through red tape. We need a similar system in Egypt so that no patient is humiliated about his ability to pay,” Al-Sayed said.  

“We are planning to reform the hospitals, especially the emergency departments. In addition, improvements in equipment, the standard of doctors and communications between hospitals are underway,” Kholeif said.

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