View Full Version : Japan hit by medical malpractice

Nov 6, 2003, 12:29
Japan hit by medical malpractice (http://www.emedia.com.my/Current_News/NST/Monday/World/20031103072256/Article/)

TOKYO, Nov 2: Yuri Furudate, 16, dreamed of becoming a broadcast newsreader and was
planning to go on her first trip abroad, to Europe.

But in April 2000, she felt a lump on her jaw and went to a clinic. Six months later she was dead.

Her parents recall administrators from the hospital in Saitama just north of Tokyo where she was treated came and told them their daughter was given "a little too much" of an anti-cancer drug after surgery to remove the lump failed.

Police later found that she was injected with a week's dosage of the powerful drug Vinchristine every day for seven fatal days in a row, in a treatment plan approved by a senior professor.

Yuri's doctor had never treated her type of cancer, had no experience administering the drug, misread the dosage and did not understand its side-effects, according to the ruling by the Saitama District Court which found him and two supervising doctors criminally responsible in March.

Lobby groups are starting to speak out against medical malpractice in Japan, and the media have been quick to jump on cases of shocking incompetence, while giving advice on how to protect oneself.

Makoto Kondo, author of Hey Patient, Don't Fight Cancer, and Hints at How to Run Away from Poor Treatment and Bad Doctors, said the situation is so hopeless in Japan that most times it is best not to seek treatment at all.

"Not going to the hospital is better for your health," said Kondo, a radiology lecturer at Keio University School of Medicine.

"There are two kinds of medical malpractice in Japan. One is due to a careless slip. The other is due to lack of ability. In Japan, cases due to lack of ability are extremely numerous." Although it is not clear how many accidents occur at the nation's 9,300 hospitals every year, a one-off Health Ministry survey of just 82 of the nation's top hospitals found 15,201 medical accidents in the three years to February 2002.

The list records instances of doctors leaving gauze and instruments in patients' bodies after surgery, operating on patients without informed consent and injecting drugs into the wrong patients.

Over the same period there were another 192,829 cases in the same 82 hospitals where medical near-misses were spotted before it was too late, according to the survey.

Kondo estimated one to two per cent of Japan's 260,000 physicians should lose their licences due to incompetence.

This is a growing matter of concern in Japan. There have been news of lethal medical malpractices several times a week in the last few months.

Except the book of Makoto Kondo, Toyoko Yamasaki, a jounalist, has also written the multi-volume best-seller 白い巨塔(shiroi kyotou) (http://www.amazon.co.jp/exec/obidos/ASIN/4101104336/ref=sr_aps_b_/250-2697498-3795430) about medical malpractice in Japanese hospitals and which is soon to become a TV series.

The few times I've been to the doctor (GP or otolaryngologist), I was dismayed at how backward they were. At one of them, there was no separation at all between the doctor and the waiting room, so that everybody could hear what was told about you. Instead of having a regular "ear microscope" (sorry I forgot the right term) as all doctors have in Europe, doctors have big lumberjack torches (flashlights) with which it's impossible to inspect the inner ear. And I am comparing the of the Japanese otolaryngologist (ear doctor)to a European GP ! 15 years ago, my otolaryngologist already had a video camera microscope that showed the inside of the ear on a big screen, so that I could see as well.

The average doctors where I've been here in central Tokyo don't have computers for the patients files and prescribe medicine talking about the blue pill or yellow tablet instead of using the scientific name and explaining what each of them is for. I've been told by Japanese that doctors very rarely tell the medicine's names or explain what they are for to their patients, as they think they wouldn't understand. What is more, it is not acceptable to even ask the doctor, as it is the equivalent of doubting his/her abilities. The same applies for Korea. My reply is "how can you trust a doctor to whom you cannot even ask questions regarding your own illness or its treatment ?".

Once, I felt very bad and went to see the GP. As I had no fever, didn't cough or had no runny nose, he didn't know what to do and told me to drink green tea ! I don't go to the doctor (and pay 20$) to be told to drink tea ! :angry: He just had no clue of what I had because of evident incompetence.

One more thing, Japanese doctors usually prescribe over 10 different medicines for a cold or flu. I guess that just makes sure that whatever you have one of them is going to cure you. And didn't I mention that it often includes antibiotics (for a normal cold !).

Nov 9, 2003, 15:32
That's appalling. I'm really shocked. I had no idea.

One more thing, Japanese doctors usually prescribe over 10 different medicines for a cold or flu.

This is especially scary--not to mention incompetent--because many of those medications could cause adverse reactions when taken together! (Assuming that's what you were saying.)

I'm surprised there aren't more lawyers in Japan!! Looks like medical malpractice is a growing field, unfortunately.

Mr. Manji
Nov 9, 2003, 15:51
thats crazy! its unnerving to think that could leave a hospital in a worse condition than you entered.