Japan: Impatient patients

In recent years, harsh criticisms have been focused at hospitals and healthcare workers about the quality of medical care. An example of the target of criticisms was a doctor conducting transplants using diseased kidneys in Ehime. And most recently, a pregnant woman, who lived just a few minutes away from a hospital, miscarried after a three-hour ambulance ride during which eight hosptials rejected to admit her.

On the other hand, cases in which doctors and healthcare workers are harrased by their patients have also been increasing. A survey [Ja] shows that at university hospitals acrross the country, there were at least 430 cases in which doctors and nurses were physically harrased and about 990 cases in they were verbally abused by patients and their families last year. A story on this issue which lists detailed descriptions of some of the actual cases can be found in an article at The Daily Yomiuri.

Here is what some doctors and healthcare workers had to say.

In response to a question asking for opinions about verbal abuse against mendical staff, a doctor-in-training writes at a BBS:


Even if we are not at fault, when we get taken to court it is a lot of work, and my motivation goes down. I am moving on to take up a specialization. Obstetrics was one of the choices, but I didn't really feel like going in that direction because of the unfavourable situation, so I have decided to head for a different specialization. Media and judges should realize that their coverage and court decisions are destroying obstetric and pediatric healthcare.

Another doctor-in-training writes:


In this age, doctors are slaves. [Health care in Japan] depends solely on doctors who work as if they were volunteer workers. The work is hard and the labour stardard law is not applicable. Demand from patients is getting high and the risk of getting sued is also high. We get bashed by the media and our salaries are cut back to the same level as that of ordinary salarymen. There are a lot of stupid patients who mistake healthcare for a service business and complain all the time. Work only with passion? Give me a break. How many people are there in this world who actually work with passion anyway? You work first for your family or for your own life. People would not work unless money to protect things important to them was offered.

A medical social worker gives their thoughts about the situation, pointing out to the government's ignorance as well as patients’ misunderstandings.



This is what I have been thinking recently.
People are talking about healthcare as though it is a service business.
I try my best so that patients get better treatment.
And I think that's the way I should be.

There are so many things I want to say.


“Medical costs are too high!!” — The government is busy only with cutting down medical treatment fees.
Makes me want to ask: “Do you really think at such pricing proper medical care is possible?”
Even now, medical and walfare are not properly compensated.
(you might misunderstand this, but medical and welfare workers’ wages are surprisingly low, and so are doctors’)


No matter how many times we make announcements, the number of people using the emergency center as a night-time clinic does not decrease.
To medical staff who are giving emergency care, they say things like “I am going to get something to eat, so wait for me.”

Even when someone who is dying arrives, they say: “I came before that person,” and complain.

And they claim only their rights, saying: “I am paying a high medical cost”
But I want to say that, unlike a hotel service, service charges are not included [in the fees].
I also want people to know how cheap the medical treatment fees are.





Today, hospitals are caught between the government's intentions and patients’ intentions.
In any case, I think “the cheaper the better” is not possible to achieve.

1 get better treatment even if it costs more
2 supress the medical cost even though the quality of medical care decreases

I think you have to choose either way.

Which would you choose?

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