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2008年8月21日 (木)


(Aug. 21, 2008) The Yomiuri Shimbun

Medical safety panels should be set up soon

産科医無罪 医療安全調査委の実現を急げ(821日付・読売社説)

How should causes of medical mishaps be determined and how should responsibility be determined? Wednesday's court ruling on an obstetrician who allegedly caused a woman's death following a cesarean section in a sense offered an answer to these questions.


medical mishaps=医療事故 cesarean section=帝王切開の部署

The Fukushima District Court acquitted the obstetrician, who had been arrested and indicted over the death.


The woman died of massive bleeding after undergoing a procedure at the prefecture-run Ono Hospital in Fukushima Prefecture, to remove the placenta attached to her uterine wall. Prosecutors and police charged the doctor with professional negligence resulting in death saying that removing the patient's uterus instead of just the placenta was the standard course of action.


placenta=胎盤 uterine=子宮の

The court said the general medical standard must be a procedure determined by a majority of doctors who face similar incidents, but that there was no proof the Ono Hospital case fell into this category. The court ruling seems to imply criticism of investigators that sought criminal responsibility against the doctor, despite divided medical viewpoints.


This incident has had an extremely grave impact on medical circles. After the doctor was arrested, a number of hospitals nationwide stopped obstetrics services and medical students avoided pursuing not only obstetrics but also other fields such as surgery that would entail operations that could risk patients' lives.


obstetrics=産科学 entail=~を伴なう、~をひきおこす


Too quick to judge


First of all, was it necessary to arrest the doctor? We cannot help but be skeptical of this.


The present ruling was determined by a lower court and the doctor's acquittal has yet to be finalized. But it is a worrying situation that police can so quickly launch investigations into medical mishaps.



It would be better that a neutral and specialized entity first decide whether criminal responsibility should be pursued in each case. The creation of medical safety investigation committees, which the Health, Labor and Welfare Ministry is considering, should be realized as soon as possible.


The ministry envisages that such committees should be central and regional and that committee members should include not only doctors but also lawyers and experts in other areas, so that neutrality can be maintained.


so that neutrality can be maintained=中立性を保つために

Under the plan, medical institutions would be obliged to report certain cases--a patient dying in an unexpected way, for example--to the committees. The committees also would accept requests from patients' families to conduct investigations. The committees would make public its reports after giving due consideration to personal information and present recommendations on measures to prevent recurrence.



Deciding what's malicious


The committees would only notify the police regarding malicious cases such as intentional or serious negligence, or falsification of medical records. Police would investigate cases giving respect to judgments made by the committees and taking into account whether the committees have alerted them of the cases.


This plan has already been worked out in detail so that it can quickly be made into a bill. But some in medical circles have said they would oppose the plan as long as it includes the police notification system. The plan has thus been stalled.


It is a matter of course that malicious cases be notified to police. If the committees do not notify incidents, even though they might possibly be constituted as crimes, there will be no change in the situation in which police directly initiate investigations even if committees are set up.


(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, Aug. 21, 2008)

20088210151  読売新聞)


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