OSAKA – Forty-four percent of responding hospitals that offer advanced medical procedures in Japan have faced difficulty providing necessary treatment to patients amid a nationwide surge in novel coronavirus cases, a Kyodo News survey showed Monday.
The survey found some advanced treatment hospitals for patients with conditions such as cancer that are difficult to treat at ordinary hospitals have postponed surgeries for non-COVID-19 patients or limited accepting emergency patients.
The findings in the survey conducted in early December highlight the degree of strain on the medical system at a time when Japan has seen a resurgence in coronavirus cases since November. The daily infections reached a record 3,881 on Saturday, with Tokyo, the hardest-hit area among 47 prefectures, logging the highest number of 949 infections.
More than 224,000 virus cases have been reported in the country, with over 3,300 deaths.
Among the responses, Hokkaido University Hospital said when it sent its nurses to care for coronavirus patients, it had to have other departments scale down their services. University of Yamanashi Hospital said it has postponed scheduled surgeries.
Asked whether they have enough staff to treat COVID-19 patients with severe symptoms, 53 percent said they face a shortage of nurses, while 44 percent said they lack doctors.
Some 58 percent of the respondents said they do not intend to increase the number of beds for coronavirus patients, compared with 33 percent that said they are scheduled to or are considering raising the number.
“Fatigue and stress on health care workers have started to exceed their limit,” said Tokyo Medical and Dental University’s Medical Hospital in its response. Another hospital said, “There have been nurses who intend to quit because of anxiety and stress.”
All 87 advanced treatment hospitals nationwide were surveyed with 45 giving valid responses.