KUALA LUMPUR: Is it possible for five government doctors to handle a staggering 500 to 700 patients a day?
Impossible as it sounds, this is the typical day for doctors at the Sungai Buloh health clinic who have almost become "robots" when treating patients.
This has left them with absolutely no rest, lunch on the run or no time even for a toilet break as each one of them has to treat an average of 70 patients per hour.
Not only has the problem deeply affected the doctors, it has left patients with no option but to wait between two and five hours to see a doctor.
The doctors told the New Straits Times that they were at their tether's end and could not take it any more.
Dr Nirmal Singh said that although there were seven doctors on the roster, only an average of five worked every day which aggravated the problem.
"We have to examine, treat, fill forms and do referrals. This has left us with absolutely no time to counsel patients let alone have a word with them."
He and the others regularly worked from 8am to 5.30pm without a break "to the extent that we are almost near breaking point."
The situation has led doctors roping in general workers to help fill forms at the clinic located three kilometres from the Sungai Buloh Hospital.
From Saturday (May 1), even this could not be done as the authorities terminated contract workers who cleaned toilets and told the general workers to take over.
"This has left us with little help most of the time. We need clinic assistants appointed to help us operate this clinic efficiently," he said, adding that the frequent lack of air-conditioning did not help.
The doctors did not have air-conditioning for two weeks last month which left them frazzled by the end of the day.
The clinic was crowded most of the time as it catered to people from as far away as Shah Alam, Tanjung Karang, Ijok, Batang Berjuntai, Rawang, Bukit Beruntung, Damansara and Kepong.
"This is not all. The clinic also handles patients referred to us from the Sungai Buloh Hospital," said the doctors.
The clinic also handled dengue and influenza A (H1N1) patients who had to be handled with care.
Another doctor, who declined to be identified, said the clinic had breached its capacity which was 350 to 400 patients a day.
"We get a lot of patients referred from the Sungai Buloh hospital. Sometimes our emergency department is unable to cope with the number of cases coming in as we only have three beds."
The seven nurses on duty daily also have their hands full as they have to register patients, take blood samples, screen diabetes and hypertensive patients, do ECG, check fever and do blood tests from as many as 200 patients.
The clinic has three medical assistants.
In 2003, the health clinic handled some 76,000 patients a year with the number rising to more than 110,000 last year.