MCs by 1Malaysia clinics – illegal?
By Dr Anony
I refer to the reply given by Dr Nooraini Baba (NST, March 30th, 2010) in which she claimed that Assistant Medical Officers (AMO) can issue Medical Certificates.
She had then explained that the MCs issued by AMOs are not illegal, but just that they are invalid for the purpose of workers absenting themselves from work without pay under Section 60F of the Employment Act. In her reply, Dr Nooraini had quoted from the MEDICAL ACT 1971 (Act 50).
I would like to point out that there is NO provision under any Act of Parliament for the Medical Assistants who man the 1Malaysia clinics, to be referred to as “Assistant Medical Officers.”
Instead, the Medical Assistants are governed under the MEDICAL ASSISTANTS (REGISTRATION) ACT 1977 (Act 180), and they are thus properly referred to as Medical Assistants, and NOT as “Assistant Medical Officers.”
I would like to ask Dr Nooraini, whether the fact that 1Malaysia clinics are manned by Medical Assistants, is in violation of MEDICAL ACT 1971, specifically Section 33. (1) (f), which reads: ‘33(1) Any person not registered or exempted from registration under this Act who – (f) uses the term “clinic” or “dispensary” or “hospital” or the equivalent or any of there terms in any other language in the signboard over his place of practice in purported practice of medicine or surgery as a person registered under this Act; shall be guilty of an offence against this Act.’
Also, the fact that these Medical Assistants are running the “1Malaysia clinics” without supervision of Fully Registered Medical Practitioners, would mean that they are also in violation of the MEDICAL (INSTRUMENTS) (EXEMPTION) REGULATIONS 1986, specifically Section 4(1) which reads: ‘4. Condition of exemptions. (1) In the case of a registered medical assistant who is employed in a Government hospital, Government health centre or other Government institution for the care, treatment or rehabilitation of patients the exemption shall only apply if he is using any of the instruments specified in the Schedule in the course ofcarrying out his duties in the Government hospital, Government health centre or other Government institution for the care, treatment or rehabilitation of patients under the supervision of the officer.
’For those who are uninitiated, the MEDICAL ACT 1971 prohibits Non-registered Medical Practitioners from using certain medical instruments, which are normally used in the practice of medicine and surgery.
The MEDICAL (INSTRUMENTS) (EXEMPTION) REGULATIONS 1986 was enacted specifically to exempt Medical Assistants from the prohibition under MEDICAL ACT 1971 of using those medical instruments.
However, it is clear that MEDICAL (INSTRUMENTS) (EXEMPTION REGULATIONS 1986, Section 4(1) allows their exemption ONLY when these Medical Assistants are practicing under the supervision of doctors.
Of course, one may then dispute the interpretation of the words “under supervision of.” This then leads us to the Poisons Act 1952 (Act 366), in which the prescription and supply of Poisons are strictly governed (many medications dispensed at clinics are scheduled poisons and require the words “Ubat Terkawal” to be imprinted on the packaging.) Section 19 of Poisons Act 1952 (Act 366) reads thus: ‘19. (1) Any poison other than a Group A Poison may be sold, supplied or administered by the following persons for the following purposes – (a) a registered medical practitioner may sell, supply or administer such poison to his patient for the purposes of the medical treatment of such patient only; (4) Any medical practitioner, dentist or veterinary officer who sells or supplies any poison or medicine containing a poison not prepared by him or under his immediate personal supervision shall be guilty of an offence against this Act.
’ It is also in the very same Poisons Act 1952 (Act 366), that the interpretation of “immediate personal supervision” is clearly defined, in Section 2(2): ‘ (2) In this Act where anything is required to be done under the immediate personal supervision of any person it shall be deemed to have been so done if such person was at the time it was done upon the premises where it was done and available for immediate consultation by the person doing such thing’
As far as had been publicized in the media, these “1Malaysia clinics” are manned only by Medical Assistants, who therefore are NOT practicing under the “supervision” of any fully registered medical practitioner, as defined by law.
Thus, I can only conclude that these Medical Assistants are practicing in violation of several laws.
Now, if these Medical Assistants are functioning in a capacity which is illegal, aren’t the certificates, including the Medical Certificates, which they issue, also illegal?
Furthermore, by allowing these Medical Assistants to practice illegally, aren’t their superiors in the Ministry of Health, also guilty of abetment, as defined under the PENAL CODE (Act 574), specifically Sections 107, which reads: ‘107. A person abets the doing of a thing who— (a) instigates any person to do that thing; (b) engages with one or more other person or persons in any conspiracy for the doing of that thing, if an act or illegal omission takes place in pursuance of that conspiracy, and in order to the doing of that thing; or (c) intentionally aids, by any act or illegal omission, the doing of that thing.’
It would thus seem to me that the entire concept and practice of “1Malaysia clinics” are illegal, and in violation of more than one law, and therefore in the absence of any repeal or amendment to the violated laws, all Medical Certificates issued by the Medical Assistants manning the clinics are therefore also illegal