YONG PENG: The Health Ministry is considering taking legal action against a Singapore online news portal over a report on the death of Justinian Tan.
Theindependent.sg claimed that there was a slow response time of up to 30 minutes by an ambulance from the Sultanah Aminah Hospital (HSA) following the fatal road crash involving the 25-year-old Singaporean on Aug 25.
The report claimed that HSA had demanded a deposit from the victim's family before treating the patient.
"The allegations reported on the online news portal were untrue and disappointing as it has marred the hospital's image," Health Minister Datuk Seri Dr S. Subramaniam told reporters after launching the Johor MIC annual general meeting here on Friday.
Dr Subramaniam said the ministry was considering taking legal action on the news portal, which gave an impression that the hospital had put money first before saving a life.
"The claim that the ambulance arrived 30 minutes later was also false and we have records to support this," he said, adding that the editor should have referred the matter with the Malaysian authorities before running the story.
"Only after putting it up online, they wanted to get clarification from us but by then, it is too late," he added.
He also said a neurosurgeon at HSA was on standby to perform the necessary surgery on Tan.
Dr Subramaniam said that checks with the hospital revealed that the medical officer who was attending to the case had contacted the neurosurgeon.
"However, before the hospital could proceed with it, the next of kin of the victim had reached the hospital, and decided to transfer him back to Singapore although doctors warned them of the risk," he said.
Health Ministry director-general Datuk Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah had earlier said the ambulance service record showed that the emergency call was made at 2.57am on Aug 25 and that the ambulance left the hospital two minutes later.
It was reported that Tan was travelling with a group of friends in Johor Baru when the accident took place along Jalan Dato Abdullah Tahir in Taman Abad.