There has been constant media attention of late on the dire conditions of Japan’s healthcare services—specifically, the emergency services.
The Fire and Disaster Management Agency conducted a survey on the state of the emergency services and found that, last year, there were 24,089 cases where emergency patients were rejected by medical facilities more than three times before being hospitalized.
There have been many media horror stories featuring 80 year old ladies being passed around 10 different hospitals before finally finding a place where they have the room, the doctors and the time to treat her. Authoritarians try to lay some of this blame on the public themselves, with the governor of Osaka, Toru Hashimoto, saying in an interview with TBS that “People are treating the emergency services like a taxi, using it for pointless cases when they are not really in need of emergency care.”
TBS agreed that this is a problem.
Of course, there will always be hypochondriacs and people that misuse the emergency system. However, with the majority of emergency care users being the elderly, will discouraging people to use the emergency services not cause elderly people to refrain from using it even though their condition actually necessitates it? There is a danger that this message may cause the ageing population to feel embarrassment or a sense of shame when calling an ambulance and this could see harmful consequences. TBS really should have questioned whether asking people to use the emergency services less was a solution to the problem
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