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Medical group underlines gynecologist shortage

2012/05/11 20:10:12

Taipei, May 11 (CNA) A medical alliance from central Taiwan's Changhua County urged the government Friday to do more to addressthe shortage of doctors in the gynecologist profession, which often involves high risks and long hours on the job.

Doctors are becoming more unwilling to work in the gynecology department because of the risk of facing lawsuits and the high pressure associated with the profession, said doctors from the Changhua Medical Alliance for Public Affairs at a press conference at the Legislative Yuan.

According to statistics compiled by the Taiwan Association of Obstetrics and Gynecology between 2000 and 2010, the average age of Taiwanese gynecologists is 54 years old, said Yeh Guang-peng, a gynecologist at Changhua Christian Hospital.

The aging gynecologist population indicates young doctors are not keen to enter the profession, the doctor said.

Moreover, he added, 60.59 percent of the 368 townships surveyed nationwide in 2011 did not even have gynecologists on hand to help deliver babies.

In addition, the number of medical students specializing in gynecology dropped by 28 percent from 2000 to 2,179 in 2010, Yehsaid, citing statistics he had compiled himself for the same11-year period.

One factor contributing to the decline of gynecologists is the fact that doctors are often on standby for 24 hours to assist in the delivery of babies, Yeh said.

Wu Jung-liang, another gynecologist at Changhua Christian Hospital, echoed Yeh's opinions.

He said that many physicians enter the profession thinking"if I don't enter, hell, who will?" However, these doctors soonfind "being a gynecologist is actually worse than hell," he stated.

A lot of unexpected situations can arise during childbirth, which is why gynecologists often have to face stressful lawsuits for alleged medical malpractice, Wu said, adding the government should establish a no-fault medical malpractice system.

Supporting Wu's comment, Yumin Hospital gynecologist Chen Wei-hsu said that during her first year as a resident doctor, she had to face criminal charges in a medical dispute and was asked to compensate NT$20 million (US$679,640).

In response, Wang Tsung-hsi, deputy director of the Bureau ofMedical Affairs under the Department of Health, admitted being agynecologist involves risky tasks.

With that in mind and in order to retain talent, the government has increased the percentage of payment gynecologists receive from the National Health Insurance program for clinic sessions to 17 percent, Wang said.

In the future, the bureau will form a response protocol to deal with medical accidents, and the government will make plans to establish a compensation mechanism for child birth incidents, so when accidents occur, hospitals can apply for financial aid, Wang said.

The bureau has approved applications from 21 medical institutes in 15 cities and counties for investment of NT$180 million to improve medical quality and services for women and children by integrating gynecology services and child health care, the bureau official added.

(By Chen Wei-ting and C.J. Lin)