Tuesday, 14 January 2014

Medical stories from the Chinese language press: why won't people use community clinics?

EastDay.com has a story about why Chinese people still prefer to take all their ailments direct to a high level hospital rather than seek treatment in a local community clinic. The main reason, it seems, is 'peace of mind' for pateints and their families in getting the right diagnosis. If patients go to a community clinic and are told their illness is only minor, they feel a nagging sense of unease that the local doctor may have got the diagnosis wrong or the small clinic may not have had the best equipment to do diagnostic tests and scans. On the other hand, if the clinic decides the illness is serious and refers the patient to the 'big hospital' the patient then feels they have wasted their time at the local clinic and could have saved time and money going direct to the higher level hospital.
 The article gives two case histories of patients who expressed frustration at their vague diagnosis and treatment at community clinics. One patient was told she might be having a heart attack, and only had this ruled out at the major hospital. Another patient believed her child had a congenital defect and was unable to have this checked properly at the local clinic and had to go to the Children's Hospital to have this ruled out.
The article says that around 70% of patients presenting at major hospitals have only minor illness and could be treated equally well at local clinics. However, for the time being there is little willingness among the public to rely on these clinics, it concludes.

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