Political adviser calls for easing of doctor workloads

Ke Jiayun
Following recent deaths of local doctors attributed to workplace pressure, new proposed measures aim to relieve the burden on medical professionals.
Ke Jiayun

Measures should be taken to relieve the mental and physical stress of local doctors and enhance their health management following the sudden death of two doctors last month, according to a proposal made by a local political adviser.

Local CPPCC member Wang Renwei said that last year five young and middle-aged medical workers in Shanghai died from overwork.

Last month, two experienced doctors died on the job. On December 12, Chen Pei, 49, director of Zhongshan Hospital's anal surgery department, suffered myocarditis and died. On December 16, 39-year-old Yang Lifeng with Shanghai Cancer Center died from a sudden heart condition attributed to overwork.

A medical student training at Zhongshan Hospital also died suddenly last month.

Earlier, on November 1, Jiang Xinjian, a 30-year-old anesthetist at Ruijin Hospital died after sudden cardiac arrest. On July 30, Zhao Jian, 38, chief doctor with the cardiology department of Children's Hospital of Fudan University, died from disease.

Data show that the number of Chinese doctors suffering sudden death caused by overwork totaled 6, 16 and 24 in 2013, 2014 and 2015 respectively. Most of them were aged between 30 and 39. A survey conducted in 2017 found doctors in China often worked more than 80 hours a week and over 40 percent of surgeons spend eight hours or more per day performing surgeries.

It's also common for doctors to work overtime at local hospitals, especially leading public hospitals which serve more patients.

Wang cited two local doctors on the heavy workload of medical professionals. Mao Teng, from Shanghai Chest Hospital, recalled that a decade ago, his team only had five surgeries per week. But now, he often has 10 surgeries just in one day.

Jiang Xiaoqing from Eastern Hepatobiliary Surgery Hospital said he and two other surgeons once performed three liver transplantation surgeries in 12 hours and worked until dawn the next day.

Many working at leading hospitals told Wang that they are overburdened with patients as well as their own research projects. Some sacrifice their own health due to workplace pressure.

Wang proposes improvements to the city's classified medical system which can send more patients with common diseases to community health centers. He also suggests the promotion of a reservation system for outpatient services and the construction of regional treatment centers to relieve pressure on leading hospitals.

The proposal also calls for more physical exams for doctors, and hospitals can make such exams compulsory.

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