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ER doctors call for reform

2011/01/19 15:48:56

Taipei, Jan. 19 (CNA) Doctors called attention Wednesday to theneed for improved emergency room (ER) management and theestablishment of a better working environment for ER doctors inTaiwan.

At present, there are only 1,200 registered ER doctorsnationwide, of which 800 work full-time, serving 6.4 millionemergency medical cases per year, a problem leading to huge amountsof overtime work for the doctors and a brain drain in emergencymedical staff.

"There are many reasons for this, " explained Cheng Jih-chang,director of the emergency department at Chang Gung MedicalFoundation. Cheng is also the chairman of the Taiwan Academy ofEmergency Management Department, which celebrated its establishmentthat day.

Under the current National Health Insurance system, the hospitalis given an average NT$650 (US$20) for each emergency case, with themoney shared by doctors, nurses and other miscellaneous hospitalexpenses, he said.

Experienced ER doctors would rather transfer to cosmetic surgery,where they work routine hours and can possibly earn more, he said.

He added that 75 percent of the working hours for ER doctors areconcentrated in the evenings, weekends and holidays, when clinics areclosed.

"The working environment for ER doctors and nurses is not ideal,"he said, adding that if the situation is not improved, the braindrain crisis is bound to continue.

According to a study carried out by Lin Hung-jung, director ofthe Chi Mei Medical Center's Emergency Department, turnover among ERmedical staff is as high as 30 percent.

Cheng said there is an urgent need to enhance ER medicalmanagement and develop a holistic understanding of the difficultiesof hospital ER departments, hence the establishment of the newdepartment.

(By Nancy Liu)