DOH implements restriction on hospital emergency signs

The China Post news staff

The Cabinet-level Department of Health (DOH) has decided to implement a new rule preventing hospitals that do not provide around-the-clock emergency treatment to put up signs like “Emergency Department” at their premises,

Such hospitals will have to use signs like “Emergency Outpatient Department” to avoid misunderstanding by patients, said a DOH official. The new rule was prompted by a death of a six-month-old baby boy in Shengang in central Taichung after his mother rushed him to a hospital with the “Emergency Department” sign only to find out service at the hospital was already closed. The baby was then taken to another hospital for emergency treatment, but doctors were unable to save his life due to the delay. The mother of the baby said she brought her baby boy, who had stopped breathing and whose heart had stopped beating, to Tung’s Hospital as it was the nearest hospital with the “Emergency Department” sign from her home on Sunday night. But she had to rush to another hospital after finding no staff available to handle emergency cases on Sunday night.

An official at Tung’s Hospital explained the hospital’s “Emergency Department” stays open until 10 p.m. on weekdays, 6 p.m. on Saturdays, and 12 noon on Sundays. The mother said she does not blame either of the hospitals for failing to save her baby’s life. But there should be accurate and unmistakable signs at hospitals, she said. DOH officials said hospitals with more than 100 beds and more staff members normally maintain the “Emergency Department” service over 24 hours. But smaller hospitals with inadequate personnel and equipment should not use the “Emergency Department” sign if the department cannot operate around the clock. Such hospitals will have to use the “Emergency Outpatient Department” sign to avoid misunderstandings, they said.