The Taiwan Health Reform Foundation yesterday criticized the Department of Health’s new standards for hospital accreditation, calling them ill-defined and ineffective at protecting the rights of patients.
The health department recently drafted a proposal for next year’s evaluation criteria for hospital accreditation, a process by which health authorities determine whether hospitals and clinics pass the necessary requirements to be included under the National Health Insurance (NHI) contract and therefore receive related compensation and payments.
However, the foundation said the plan emphasized the wrong criteria, which would compromise the protection of patients’ rights to proper, quality healthcare.
The foundation said that by selecting only seven types of medical personnel in the evaluation criteria, the health department’s intentions were questionable because they avoid areas that have been historically more problematic, such as levels of intensive care nurses and respiratory therapists.
The foundation also said the health department’s plan does not adequately regulate the number of pharmacists required at each hospital, resulting in conditions in which hospitals can get away with hiring only one pharmacist or one respiratory therapist and still be a NHI-contracted hospital.
“Such criteria are what cause certain hospitals to receive medical center status despite not having enough qualified pharmacists,” foundation executive director Liu Mei-chun (劉梅君) said.
Not having enough pharmacists lowers the quality of healthcare because pharmacists are forced to process prescriptions and package medications at a much faster rate than is appropriate and may result in a higher rate of human error, she said.
The foundation said the department had become inept at monitoring the quality and conditions of the nation’s NHI-contracted hospitals and clinics, and was forgetting to put patients and their rights to quality healthcare first.
“The DOH has given up its post as the gatekeeper of the nation’s medical care quality,” Liu said.
The foundation called for the department to include all types of medical personnel in the process of hospital accreditation rather than excluding certain types of medical staff and to not lower the standard levels of medical staff.
In response, the heath department said that it will gather the opinion of medical experts to discuss improvements to the process of hospital evaluations.
However, the department said that changes would take time and that not all hospitals and clinics have the same access to medical resources.