There is no justification for public and private health facilities to reject and turn away patients who need immediate treatment, the Ghana Medical Association (GMA) has stated.

It recognised that although private outfits may choose to not accept certain patients, the deaths and complications some patients suffer due to cases of outright refusal of admission are unacceptable.

General Secretary of the Association, Dr Titus Beyuo, explained on Joy FM’s Super Morning Show on Thursday that it is a violation for any public hospital funded by the government to ignore a patient in an emergency.

“In the case of an emergency, we have what we call resuscitation. Resuscitation can always go alongside the initial details of the patient. Yes, the details are very important because they tell us what you can do and what you cannot do. Some patients may see this as time-wasting but we have always thought students and clinicians that do not waste unnecessary time doing these.

“You’ve seen a patient that is unconscious – start the process of resuscitation even before you want to ask these questions [about the vital signs]. The person cannot tell you their name, bank details and mode of financing – so, what is obvious to you, it is expected that you start that whilst you get the additional information but definitely this information are also important for this care and subsequent care to prevent medical errors,” he explained.

Dr Titus Beyuo made the reactions after some callers shared their experiences of how they were left unattended to by health officials, even in their need of urgent medical care.

One of such callers was Fafa, a resident of Accra. She had a preterm birth one day after the Covid-19 lockdown started.

She walked into a polyclinic only to be told that because she had not attended antenatal care at that facility prior to giving birth, they could not attend to her.

As a result, they refused to cut her umbilical cord until after an hour. Fafa was not allowed to use the washroom.

Dr Beyuo remarked that “this is a very unfortunate situation and the acts, will I say, are condemnable if they are what they have been narrated here. I am speaking with passion on this one because I am an obstetrician, I take care of pregnant women.”

He explained that there is a good reason why pregnant women are allowed to keep their medical records. With that, they can attend any health facility and should be well taken care of.

The obstetrician acknowledged that Fafa’s case is a critical one that involved many factors, which should have been well looked at by nurses at the said polyclinic.

“This is a preterm delivery, the baby may need help, resuscitation and all of that [but] all these were not looked at simply because she did not attend antenatal there? That is not acceptable at anywhere, whether public or private and this is a government facility.

“No facility has the right to turn anybody away in an emergency. In a walk-in, a private facility can decide ‘we do not wish to have you as our patient’ but in a public facility, by virtue of the fact that you are funded by the government of Ghana, you are mandated by law to care for every Ghanaian who goes into that facility.

“They cannot turn people away. This case is an emergency; whether it was private or public, once you walked in there, she needed to be attended to,” he stressed.

The discussion centered on experiences patients go through at the hands of healthcare professionals when they visit clinics and hospitals.

It was borne out of the theme for the 22nd Annual Public Lecture of the Ghana Medical Association, “Healthcare Worker-patient Relationship in contemporary times.”

The Public Lecture will be held at the Volta Serene Hotel in Ho on Friday, July 29, 2022.