Act now to raise medical standards

PUBLISHED : Monday, 04 April, 2011, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 04 April, 2011, 12:00am


With many people leading unhealthy lifestyles, there is a rising demand for medical services in Hong Kong. People expect hospitals to offer top-quality care despite the increasing pressure on medical staff.

The recent series of medical errors in public hospitals is a cause for concern.

Doctors and nurses are not the only ones to blame. There has been a huge increase in their workload. Many are forced to work long hours because of a staff shortage. No one can be expected to be 'flawless' after working 24 hours non-stop.

What's more, young doctors are not willing to join the public sector because of the heavy workload and low salaries.

We should not wait until the problem becomes a crisis. The Medical Council should act now to improve the quality of Hong Kong's medical services.

Chin Tsz-ki, Ju Ching Chu Secondary School

From the Editor

Thank you for your letter, Tsz-ki. While there is no doubt that our public hospital medical staff are overworked, it is too much to expect a 'flawless' service. There is no such thing.

For all our medical advancements, we have not really found a way to completely get rid of the 'human factor'. It could be something as minor as a doctor not washing her hands properly, or as major as a mistake in drug administration.

A hundred years ago, doctors only needed a high-school diploma and a few years of college. Now they have to study for as many as seven years before they can begin to practise. Then they have to choose a speciality and study further in that field.

Because today's doctors have more treatment options compared to those of the past century, the chances of making the wrong choice are that much bigger. While systems are being put into place to prevent as many mistakes as possible, the 'zero error' ideal is just that - an ideal.

Susan, Editor