Abu Dhabi: When a patient comes in for emergency treatment, it is the doctor’s responsibility to worry about their safety and care, and financial considerations should be put on the back burner, healthcare professionals have said.
Speaking to Gulf News, they urged patients to communicate with physicians as many times as needed when seeking urgent treatment.
“Patients should be reassured that no concern of theirs is a waste of time when they visit a hospital for a medical emergency. [This also means] that we do not look at financial issues when a patient comes in for an emergency; instead, we offer treatment and work to stabilise the as a priority,” Dr Jacques Kobersy, chair of emergency medicine at the Cleveland Clinic Abu Dhabi, told Gulf News.
He was speaking a day after the Abu Dhabi Department of Health (DoH) issued a circular reiterating its 2008 patient charter regulation to provide emergency care to patients regardless of insurance cover and status.
“In line with DoH’s policies, healthcare facilities are required to prioritise patient safety and stability, and are strictly prohibited from denying emergency care to patients based on the validity or lack of health insurance cover,” the statement said.
The statement also put the burden of arranging transfers of patients with medical emergencies squarely on healthcare facilities, and urged inpatients to call its Istijaba hotline on 8001717 in case of any complaints.
“In cases where a patient requires inpatient treatment and the condition is life-threatening, we admit even without insurance cover. If the case is not life-threatening and the patient does not have insurance cover, they can choose to sign a guarantee of payment form and we admit them. Otherwise, we are obligated to transfer the patient to a public hospital after ensuring that the hospital in question will accept them, and after arranging for an ambulance,” said Dr Soha Samy, emergency specialist at Burjeel Hospital Abu Dhabi, a private healthcare facility.
At the Cleveland Clinic Abu Dhabi, owned by the Abu Dhabi Government, patients are admitted, if required, regardless of insurance cover, Dr Kobersy explained. The hospital also uses an early warning score to determine which patients need treatment most urgently.
“The model that I try to impart is that it is the physician’s main function to worry when a patient approaches them for emergency care. And if they feel they are not getting the care they need, a polite conversation can help redirect physicians to symptoms they had not been cognizant of before,” he said.
Dr Samy said patients can be expected to be seen by a doctor within an hour or two after initial triaging, even for concerns that are not life-threatening, and within half an hour for urgent concerns.
Both doctors added that patient safety and wellbeing comes first, regardless of their ability to pay, and lauded the DoH’s commitment to patient safety.
“As a private hospital, we are allowed to transfer patients if their insurance plans do not include the hospital, but only after ensuring that the facility they are being transferred to will accept them and provide care”, Dr Samy reiterated.
The DoH circular issued on October 11 follows a complaint by an Al Ain-based Jordanian resident, who alleged that negligence on the part of two private hospitals resulted in the death of his two-year-old son, Kareem, in October.
According to Alaa Rawajbi, 32, the hospital where Kareem was admitted for four days to treat his high fever discharged the boy without arranging for a transfer to another hospital where they recommended he be treated. The father told Gulf News that he himself took Kareem to the second facility, but the hospital refused to admit him because of lack of insurance cover. Rawajbi eventually rushed Kareem to a public hospital but the boy passed away later that night.