Role of Hospital Medical Director

Dr. T. Selvi Moorthy, Medical Director, Sri Kota Specialist Medical Centre, Klang.

A Medical Director (MD) is primarily a clinician who is in charge of the standards of medical care given to patients in a hospital. The MD oversees the compliance of regulations in a healthcare institution, supervises its day-to-day operations and provides leadership to ensure it runs efficiently and smoothly.

An interview with Dr. T. Selvi Moorthy, Medical Director of Sri Kota Specialist Medical Centre, Klang

Is the medical director of a hospital a practising doctor?

Yes, in most instances the Medical Director sees patients clinically and undertakes administrative functions. There are some instances where Medical Directors do not directly see patients clinically but, in such positions, the Medical Director is indirectly involved in patient care when making decisions.

The medical director still ensures that he /she keeps abreast with the current medical practices and has their practising license renewed every year.

What are the differences between a medical director and a medical doctor?

A Medical Director structures and coordinates the administrative areas to ensure the performance of doctors, nurses, pharmacists and facility operations are all in line to assure quality and efficient clinical services are provided for optimal patient care, needs and safety.

While a Medical Doctor is a licensed medical practitioner who sees patients clinically, the doctor will examine patients, diagnose illnesses, monitor patient progress and administer a treatment plan related to the patient’s health and well-being.

What are the responsibilities of a medical director?

In a hospital environment, the medical director heads the medical staff organization and is responsible for the effective functioning of all clinical services. The medical director is usually the legal representative of the hospital and the Person in Charge responsible for compliance with the rules, and ethical and statutory requirements laid out by the Ministry of Health.

The medical director ensures that doctors and nurses are all credentialled and privileged to work in the designated areas with strict adherence to policies for good nursing and supportive care to all patients. The job function also involves overseeing ethical and medicolegal issues if any, and strictly ensuring proper upkeep and confidentiality of patient records and documents.

The medical director is responsible for effective communication within the hospital, mitigating concerns to elevate the quality of patient care and promote Continuing Medical Education for all clinicians and medical staff to improve professional competence for high care standards.

Together with the Hospital Administrator [CEO/Hospital Director], the medical director liaises with government and non-governmental bodies in licensing, and ensuring national health policies placed are adhered to.

Does the medical director work closely with clinicians and staff for improved patient care?

Yes, Medical Directors in hospitals work closely with clinicians, management and staff to ensure clinical quality is maintained, patient safety and care being of utmost importance in daily affairs.

Clinicians and staff are very much involved when making policies and procedures relevant to day-to-day operations. Regular audits are held, incidents reported and the root cause analysis completed and shared to minimize errors in future.

Do medical directors manage the patient crisis, and make informed decisions?

Effective leadership is essential in any crisis. It is primarily a shared responsibility of the Hospital Administrators [CEO/Hospital Directors] to manage a patient crisis, subject to the gravity of the issue.

But for general patient concerns or common repetitive problems arising from a day-to-day operation, the hospital has in place standing orders, rules and regulations to address the concerns.

Risk management teams work hand in hand with the Medical Director and Hospital Director/CEO to manage all kinds of crisis situations from experience and anticipated risks.

In certain emergency situations, if either one is convinced that the risks involved are proportionately more than the benefits, then shared decision-making is implemented by having immediate meetings and discussions with all concerned parties.

Does the medical director function as a facilitator within the hospital organization to achieve a patient and family-centred environment?

Yes, of course. Facilitating communication and ensuring proper decision-making is key to a hospital organization’s success. The Medical Director ensures the care of a patient is not compromised by having systems in place for patient grievances. The medical director sometimes steps in to act as a facilitator, or even a mediator by scheduling meetings with the patient’s doctor and family should the need arise.

With the management, the Medical Director ensures that problems are addressed as quickly as possible by facilitating creative and effective communication among interdepartmental working teams.

Both the Medical Director and Hospital Administrators are eager to work with managerial colleagues as equal partners to maintain clinical quality, ensure patient safety and improve the patient experience.

For more information on Sri Kota Specialist Medical Centre, Klang, please visit