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NHIA publishes list of island's overloaded emergency rooms

TAIPEI, Taiwan -- Linkou Chang Gung Memorial Hospital was listed first in a ranking of emergency room cases after accepting over 250,000 patients in 2013, the National Health Insurance Administration (NHIA) announced yesterday.

According to the NHIA, Linkou Chang Gung Memorial Hospital accepted about 561 patients in its emergency room every day last year and the hospital has been ranked No. 1 for the past 10 years for accepting the highest number of emergency room patients.

The NHIA said that National Taiwan University Hospital (NTUH) was ranked first in the category of the longest waiting time for a patient to be assigned to a bed in the emergency room.

Moreover, the NHIA's statistics showed that about 7.69 percent of patients at NTUH have to wait for over 48 hours before being admitted into the hospital.

According to the NHIA, due to the fact the many people choose to go to major hospitals or medical centers for minor health issues, in 2013 about 1.8 million patients visited the emergency rooms of medical centers nationwide.

The NHIA said that over 58,400 emergency room patients had to wait for over two days before being assigned to a bed last year.

Lin Are-ming (林阿明) of the NHIA said that including NTUH, all the top five emergency rooms that have the longest waiting time for patients to be assigned to a hospital bed are medical centers.

“The statistics show people are 'brand conscious' when they choose which hospitals to go to,” said Lin. “And they always go to major and well-known hospitals for all their health issues.”

Doctors Speak Out

The head of the emergency room department of Linkou Chang Gung Memorial Hospital Chen Jih-chang (陳日昌) yesterday said that an overload of patients in emergency rooms is one of the causes of violence in emergency rooms.

Chen said that there are on average 200-300 patients waiting for hospital beds daily, but only about 100 patients can be assigned to a ward each day due to limited space.

Tsai Kuang-chao (蔡光超), head of emergency ward services at Far Eastern Memorial Hospital in New Taipei City, said that the hospital has been handling the issue of excess patients, but this issue is a direct result of the entire medical system of Taiwan.

“People should visit local clinics first for minor health situations and wait for the doctors' opinions on whether they should be transferred to major hospitals,” said Tsai.

Doctor Wei-tien Chang (張維典) of the Emergency Medicine Department of NTUH said that many patients like to visit emergency rooms for coughing or after catching a cold, and some of them usually refuse to go to other hospitals even after being advised by medical personnel to do so.

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