Anesthetist shortage needs to be rectified, report says

TAIPEI, Taiwan, The China Post Staff

Taiwan faces a dire shortage of qualified anesthetists and the problem has enacted a high cost from society, according to a Taiwan Society of Anesthesiologists report. The report released yesterday shows there are only about 600 licensed anesthetists in practice throughout Taiwan, averaging one anesthetist for 36,211 people on the island.

There is only one anesthetist for every 130,000 people in Taipei County, which has the largest population in all counties and cities. There are just three anesthetists in the whole county of Taitung in southeastern Taiwan. The group pointed out that 103 people in Taiwan died of anesthetic complications last year with 40 percent caused by human error. The reluctance of medical school students to choose anesthesiology for their career and the Bureau of National Health Insurance’s slashing of anesthetic subsidies to contracted hospitals have aggravated the problem. When hospitals cannot recruit the number of anesthetists they need, doctors or nurses without proper training are assigned to do the job. The situation is even worse than that of Taiwan’s closest neighbor, the Philippines. One of the major negative indicators is the high death toll of 17 people for every 100,000 people receiving anesthetic for operations. The ratio is eight times the rate in nations of North America and Europe. It is 17 times the level in Japan.