Free emergency treatment for 72 hours.

Patients can now receive free emergency treatment for 72 hours before being transferred to the hospital nominated in their health scheme.

Starting from today, emergency patients can go to any hospital for 72 hours free emergency treatment, the Public Health Ministry has announced.

Public Health Minister Dr Piyasakol Sakolsatayadorn said yesterday that the ministry has launched the Universal Coverage for Emergency Patients (UCEP) policy.

Piyasakol said that to cover the medical bill for the first 72 hours, the ministry has consulted with all relevant agencies and private hospitals to set up a rate for emergency treatment costing more than Bt3,000. The hospital can draw money from the medical scheme that the patient is registered to.

“People do not have to worry. If their illness is urgent, they can go to any hospital and receive free treatment for the first 72 hours, and then they will be transferred to the hospital that they registered with for treatment on their own scheme, or they can stay at the private hospital at their own expense,” he said.

The Public Health Minister also said that the ministry has arranged with public hospitals to prepare the room for emergency patients. He added that any private hospital that refuses to take care of emergency patients for free in the first 72 hours will be punished by law.

Air Vice Marshal Chalermporn Boonsiri, head of Thai College of Emergency Physicians, said that information will be placed in front of the emergency section of each hospital to clarify the definition of an emergency illness.

Chalermporn said that the National Institute for Emergency Medicine will rule on any dispute over what kind of illness can be considered an emergency.

Private Hospital Association president Dr Pongphat Patanavanich said private hospitals are ready to take care of emergency patients for free.

He stressed, however, that patients who decide to continue treatment at private hospitals beyond the first 72 hours will have to pay the exceeding medical bill by themselves.

Thai Medical Error Network director Preeyanan Lorsermvattana said that she was glad the Public Health Ministry had arrived at the policy and said authorities had made the right decision to solve the problems of emergency medical care.

“One of the good things in this policy is that there are punishments for private hospitals if they turn down an emergency patient. Moreover, there is a system to seek room for the transferred patients after receiving emergency treatment for 72 hours,” Preeyanan said.

“I have to thank all the people who are behind this progress. From now on, we are letting the system work and we will monitor for any problems that may occur.”

She added that Thailand still did not have enough emergency physicians and it was important that everyone should take good care of their health so they will not become an emergency patient.

This policy has been made legal on the auxiliary regulations, which were effective on April 1 onward.

(Source:The Nation, Thailand)

By Juninho