Wed, Jan 12, 2005 - Page 2 News List

Better care vowed after incident

PUBLIC UPROAR An investigation has been launched to determine why an abused child failed to gain admission to 30 Taipei area hospitals early Monday morning

STAFF WRITER

Staffers man the phones at Taipei's Emergency Operation Center yesterday.

PHOTO: FANG BIN-CHAO, TAIPEI TIMES

Facing criticism over the refusal of municipal hospitals in Taipei to take in an injured girl on Monday, the head of Taipei City's Department of Health yesterday bowed in apology for the incident and pledged to provide Taipei residents with better health care.

Admitting that it is unusual to transfer a patient from Taipei to other cities for treatment, Chang Hang (張珩), the head of Taipei's Department of Health, yesterday promised to bring residents better medical care by rearranging hospital beds for patients with serious illness within two weeks.

"The Taipei City Government will form an investigation team to examine the case," Chang said.

Chen Ri-chang (陳日昌), the president of the Council of Medical Science, has been invited to lead the investigation team.

"If the Department of Health is found to be at fault, I will take full responsibility," Chang said.

Experts in medical science, law and administration will join the team.

The four-year-old girl, surnamed Chiou, reportedly fell into a coma and suffered an internal hemorrhage after being beaten by her drunk father on Monday.

Records of the Taipei emergency operations center show that an ambulance rushed the girl to Taipei Municipal Jen-Ai Hospital at 1:55am on Monday, but was declined by the hospital because no bed was available in the neurosurgery department. From that time until 4:18am, a total of 30 municipal hospitals responded to the urgent care center, refusing to take the girl for the same reason.

Failing to find any hospitals in Taipei, the center transferred the patient to Wuchi General Hospital in Taichung at 5am, six hours after the accident, according to the records.

In response to suspicion that Taipei Municipal Jen-Ai Hospital might have mishandled the case, emergency room chief at the hospital, Li Bin-chou (李彬州), yesterday emphasized that the hospital's decision was proper.

"The patient's life is in my hands, I cannot wait and waste any time," Li said.

Li said the little girl will receive better treatment and have a greater chance of survival in a hospital with empty beds in the neurosurgery department, rather than waiting eight to nine hours for surgery in Taipei.

Prosecutors also reportedly questioned both the urgent care center and hospitals on why they failed to find a bed for the patient in Taipei. They will conduct further investigations to find out who should be held responsible.

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