Medical workers feel the pain

Updated: 2013-11-01 22:51

By Wang Hongyi in Shanghai (China Daily)

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Three-quarters of physicians suffer burnout in Shanghai, survey says

Medical workers feel the pain

Using new technology, doctors wear 3-D glasses while performing surgery in Wuhan, Hubei province. A survey has found that many medical workers said they would not choose the profession if they were given a second chance, citing high stress and strained patient-doctor relationships. Hu Weiming / For China Daily

Dentist Zhou Zhenghao smiles with pride when he talks about his daughter, but his face turns when he discusses her choice for a career.

"I will never let her become a doctor or work in the medical field. I will also never agree to her marrying a doctor," said the 31-year-old from a large hospital in Tianjin.

"People never know how tough the job is until they do it," he said.

Zhou works about 10 hours each day and sees up to 30 patients on a busy day.

Like Zhou, a large number of medical workers across the country believe they are working in an insufficient environment and giving patients less time than they should.

A survey said about 74.2 percent of medical workers in Shanghai suffer from burnout, according to Labor Daily, a newspaper published by the Shanghai Labor Union.

The survey, conducted by the Shanghai Medical Labor Union, polled about 170,000 medical workers in the city about their living and work conditions.

The survey said about 72.5 percent of polled medical workers showed occupational stress caused by highly grueling work and more than 80 percent said they were "very tired".

Nearly 60 percent said trust between doctors and patients was not high. Medical costs and issues with communication, treatment and trying to deal with and serve the needs of patients were contributing factors.

"In busy periods, we don't have time for lunch," Zhou said. "Patients don't always understand and trust you.

"Sometimes I prescribed a certain type of medicine for my patients, but they thought that I recommended it just to receive a kickback. It's really hard for many doctors."

Only 25.5 percent of medical workers said they would choose the profession if given a second chance and only 13.7 percent said they would like to see their children follow in their footsteps.

About 42.2 percent of medical workers in Shanghai suffered, or have seen colleagues, experience mental and physical problems at work. Almost nine in 10, 88 percent, suffered verbal abuse, and 8.3 percent were physically attacked.

"The doctor-patient relation has become increasingly tense in recent years," said an official, surnamed Qian, from the Shanghai Medical Labor Union. "Efforts made by medical staff are not judged in an objective way." He declined to give his full name.

China has pushed in recent years for medical reform, trying to make healthcare more affordable for its more than 1.3 billion population, but disputes and complaints have risen.

"It's hard work in China to see a doctor. A patient may spend several hours waiting in the hospital," said a Shanghai woman named Luo Fang.

"But when the long wait is over, doctors then treat patients in what seems an off-hand way, prescribing the medicine before the patients has fully explained their ailments.''

Cai Jiangnan, director of the Center for Health Care Management and Policy at China Europe International Business School, said that the distribution and utilization of medical resources in China was inefficient.

"Resources are not fully used to meet the demands of patients," Cai said.