One of the most important ironies of modern health care is that public expectations are rising faster than the ability of health services to meet them. Patients nowadays no longer want to be treated as passive recipients of medical care but as co-producers or partners able to manage their illnesses. Thus, it is not surprising that poor communication and failure to take into account the patient's perspective are at the heart of most formal complaints and legal actions in Malaysia. The difficulties of existing complaint procedures in Malaysia have become manifest over the years and this has been accentuated by patients becoming more willing to challenge the decisions of medical practitioners and health service management in court. To reduce the number of complaints and risks of litigation, a more patient-centred approach should be adopted. When patients voice their concern by making a complaint or inquiry, this should be seen as a unique source of information for health care services on why adverse events occur and how to prevent them. As well as reducing future harm to patients, better management of complaints should restore trust and reduce the risk of litigation, through open communication and a commitment to learn from the problem. The existing procedures for patients to be heard in Malaysia should be reviewed and incorporate features such as responsiveness, accessibility, impartiality, simplicity, speed and accountability.
The Medical Alumni is unique in being the oldest alumni association with medical, dental and pharmacy graduates from our seminal medical school, that has now evolved into the faculties of medicine in 2 countries, namely Malaysia and Singapore. Founded in 1923, the medical alumni association has undergone several name changes with its evolution and activism. After the Japanese Occupation, it was given its present name in 1947, comprising 3 branches working under a common Constitution operating in 2 separate countries. It is also unique in being the only association recognised by the Registrar of Societies with membership in 2 countries. Following the development of medical professional and academic bodies, the medical alumni wound down its medico-political activities to concentrate on providing social and mutual support for its members and its alma mater.
A report on the 10(th) Asia-Pacific Federation of Societies for the Surgery of the Hand and 6(th) Asia-Pacific Federation of Societies for Hand Therapists is submitted detailing the numbers of attendees participating, papers presented and support received as well the some of the challenges faced and how best to overcome them from the local conference chair and scientific chair point of view.
With the rapid advances in medical science and increasing complexities of patient care, the need for continuing medical education (CME) is widely accepted by the profession. CME follows general and higher professional training, and should be a life long process. Teaching hospitals and postgraduate professional institutions play vital roles in organising, promoting, and monitoring this activity. CME directorates should be established. University authorities must recognise the important role of medical teachers in postgraduate and continuing medical education, and the staff establishment and terms of service should be held regularly. Medical libraries should have easy borrowing facilities. Self-assessment and audio-visual material are particularly helpful to the busy practitioner and inexpensive local or regional journals of quality can provide pertinent and up-to-date information. All charges for attending scientific meetings and educational material should be tax deductible or subsidized. The effectiveness of CME is difficult to assess and participation is almost impossible to enforce. Much depends on the standard of medical practice wanted by society. Recertification of general practitioners or specialists poses many problems. On the other hand, completion of self-assessment programmes, active participation at medical meetings, contributions to scientific literature, and membership of medical societies with built-in peer review could be monitored and regularly used to evaluate professional status.
The Orthopaedic specialty service in Singapore began in 1952 with the appointment of J A P Cameron to the chair of Orthopaedics at the University of Malaya and the simultaneous establishment of the Department of Orthopaedic Surgery at the General Hospital, Singapore. A second department--a government department of orthopaedic surgery was established in 1959, under the headship of Mr D W C Gawne also at the General Hospital, Singapore to cater to the increasing workload. Although orthopaedic services were already available at Alexandra Hospital, Tan Tock Seng Hospital and Toa Payoh Hospital from as early as 1974, the formal establishment of a Department of Orthopaedic Surgery in these hospitals took place only in 1977. The pioneering local orthopaedic surgeons--Mr W G S Fung, Mr K H Yeoh, and Mr V K Pillay--joined the orthopaedic service in 1961. In 1967, Prof Pillay and Mr Fung took the leadership role at the University Orthopaedic Department and Government Orthopaedic Department, General Hospital, Singapore, respectively. Subspecialty services in orthopaedic surgery began in the late 1970s, and currently, at least 7 subspecialties have developed to divisional status at one or more hospitals. In 2001, there were 92 registered Orthopaedic specialists and just over a third were in private practice.
Accessibility of research done locally to clinicians remains limited unless it is in the published form. The publication rate of research presentations at the Annual Malaysian Paediatric Association, Perinatal Society of Malaysia and Academy of Medicine Malaysia in 1997 and 1998 was determined. One hundred and five (95.5%) of 110 research presentations were carried out in Malaysia. Thirty-seven (35.2%) presentations were published. University-affiliated institutions were more likely to publish their research presentations as compared to Ministry of Health hospitals (OR 3.1 95% CI 1.4-6.8, p < 0.01). There is a need to encourage publication of local research presentations. University-affiliated institutions performed better due to institution pressure for career advancement.
The rich corporate life of the medical student and the medical students' societies at our medical school (at the present National University of Singapore) is generally unappreciated by its graduates and regrettably, even more unknown to the medical student of today. The present generation of medical students of NUS do not know of their rich history. We have published documentation of student activities from the founding of the medical school in 1905 till the establishment of the then University of Malaya in 1950, reviewed herein. Materials presented after 1950 were gathered from personal communications from key players in the students' societies and from editors of the medical students' publications.