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What is the best way to discourage people from calling ambulances and using hospital outpatient services when they are not in need of urgent treatment?

22 Comments

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A hefty fine--determined by the ambulance attendants' and emergency personnel.

8 ( +8 / -0 )

If the government is going to do something, we all know it will just be a few posters with a few members of AKB48 with a fist raised and a frown on their faces.

Either that or they'll make an anthropomorphised ambulance mascot.

5 ( +8 / -3 )

Put them in the waiting room and make them wait ages before letting them leave.

Or, more professionally, train up the emergency operators and ambulance staff so that they are legally allowed to / know how to talk to the caller / patient, so they can find out whet the problem is, or if there even is one.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

I would say the question should be more how can Japan sort out it's dangerously inadequate out of hours medical care system, and scarily inept ambulance service.

Get seriously ill on a public holiday or out of hours, and your chances of being treated are woefully low. Ambulance crew here are little more than taxi drivers, and often can't even get their patients into a hospital willing to treat them.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

I agree with Maria and Homeschooler and will go one step further:

train the EMT crew to handle medical 'emergencies' in the field before taking the caller to a hospital. If, for example, the EMT people determine the call is for a cold or hay fever, they should be able to cancel the 'emergency.' If the caller is experiencing a heart attack, the EMT crew should be able to treat the patient While Enroute to the Hospital, perhaps with a teleconference with a doctor at the hospital.

If a person realizes the ambulance crew can cancel their 'emergency', perhaps they will call less often for minor ailments.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

I would say the question should be more how can Japan sort out it's dangerously inadequate out of hours medical care system, and scarily inept ambulance service.

Last year I was in extreme pain with a tooth, about the worse I've ever experienced but it started in out-of-hours and I was shocked that in our city Kobe there no such service has an emergency dentist. Couldn't visit a hospital too.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

Probie. AKB looking angry about this on a poster would indeed solve this problem instanter. amazing how people dash to hospital here at the slightest provocation.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

@Wakarimasen

Either the raised fist, or the hands-in-front-face-in-a-X, with "絶対ダメ!", and the government will be like, "well, that's our job done! Just watch those outpatient numbers drop!".

0 ( +2 / -2 )

What are people supposed to do when there is no system of doctors relaying to receive "not so urgent" cases on week-ends and holidays ? In other countries, big cities have night and week-end doctors, that charge an additional fee and their transportation.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Get rid of the single payer system and the inevitable "tragedy of the commons" effect.

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

Aren't emergency services and out-patient services two separate things? In other countries (e.g. the UK) you need to be referred by a GP to attend hospital out-patient services. In Japan (unless things have changed recently) you can just turn up at most large hospitals. But you should be prepared to be there for most of the day. In other words, there is already a disincentive to make use of the service. I think misuse of emergency services is a different problem.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

zichi, sorry to hear you couldn't get emergency treatment for a killer toothache, no matter when it started.

I had the opposite experience, I called the hospital's emergency number on a Sunday, told them I had a killer toothache, and they told me to go there immediately and it was treated within 2 hours.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

As long as it isn't prank calls then I don't see any problem with people calling an ambulance. For the elderly who cannot drive it is often their only way to get to the hospital (try standing by the side of the road waiting for a bus when you're 80 years old and running a fever!).

Japan's doctor and ambulance crew shortage isn't a matter of lack of budget, it is a matter of a lack of sufficient trained doctors. Allow doctors from other countries to practice here (with a trained interpreter) and Japan will have no shortage of doctors.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

@Serrano

Thanks. My tooth pain arrived in the middle of the night. Phoned several major hospitals including a university one, but nothing doing. It was so bad I used my pliers in the end. I usually speak quite highly of the medical treatment but out-of-hours emergency treatment is difficult.

BTW if you need emergency medical treatment you'll get to the hospital quicker by taxi than phoning for an ambulance.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

For the ambulances: Charge the patient double the going taxi rate for non-emergency transportation. Once you make alternative transportation cheaper, the abuse of ambulance services will end.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

easy make people pay for it.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Probie - I always enjoy reading your comments. Spot on!

-4 ( +0 / -4 )

BTW if you need emergency medical treatment you'll get to the hospital quicker by taxi than phoning for an ambulance.

That's true, but if you want to get priority treatment when you arrive at the hospital, you absolutely have to take an ambulance, or else they will have you waiting in the waiting room. Hospital will assume you are not in an emergency if you can come by taxi or by your friend's or relative's car.

BTW, that's what happened to me when I broke by shoulder in an accident. My friend took me to the hospital where I had to wait until the pain hit the point where all colours faded from my face... Of course seeing that, my friend demanded that I be treated!

So to answer the question here, I really don't have an answer. A fine will be good, but that may stop the innoccent people from calling for an ambulance. Maybe they should create a black list of the frequent users. Warn them that they could be charged may be enough.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Just keep the line busy, and never answer.

-3 ( +0 / -3 )

In Japan when in doubt call #7119 which is the ambulance advisory number, describe the problem, and they will recommend whether there is a need to call an ambulance. Then you can call 119. Maybe only works in Japanese language though...

1 ( +1 / -0 )

By educating them?

0 ( +0 / -0 )

@Frungy

In some cases people who can't drive can use a taxi instead.

@Fadamor

I like your idea.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

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