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Shortage of Doctors in Japan

Author: Disabled World

Published: 2008-09-21 : (Rev. 2017-12-23)

Synopsis and Key Points:

Lately an acute shortage of doctors in Japan are leaving hospitals unable to treat even emergency cases.

Main Digest

Lately an acute shortage of doctors in Japan are leaving hospitals unable to treat even emergency cases.

Medical care for the Japanese dates from the introduction of traditional Chinese medicine around the 6th century. Today the medical facilities, hospitals, and health care in Japan are among the world's highest level in many respects.

However, lately an acute shortage of doctors in Japan are leaving hospitals unable to treat even emergency cases. Some small private hospitals now have only 1 doctor on staff, when they used to have 3 or 4. Larger hospitals are dropping entire departments because they can't get the required specialists to staff them.

Long work hours and uncompetitive pay are deterring people from entering the medical profession and Japan's strict immigration laws mean foreign doctors cannot work in the country, although it took the landmark step in 2006 of allowing in a limited number of nurses from the Philippines. Many doctors are working 36-hour days, and if this routine continues, doctors' abilities during surgery will drop and could increase the likelihood of medical errors. Because of this Japan is suffering from a current severe shortage of doctors, which is leaving some hospitals struggling to cope. "The risk of being hauled to court by patients for medical malpractice suits is a reason why many doctors today are seeking to go into less taxing fields rather than surgery", a doctor explained.

In Japan's health care system, the government regulates the fees charged by all hospitals both public and private. Employers buy insurance for workers; those without stable jobs can buy coverage through local governments. Because of this many doctors have complained to Japanese officials that their salaries are stagnant and Japanese health specialists could earn lucrative incomes overseas.

The Japanese government is planning to temporarily increase the enrollment of students at medical schools in 10 prefectures, mostly in the northern Tohoku region of Japan. The 10 prefectures are Aomori, Akita, Fukushima, Gifu, Iwate, Mie, Nagano, Niigata, Yamagata and Yamanashi.

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