Over 50% of hospitals in Japan lack specialist technicians

More than half of Japan’s major hospitals lack specialist technicians capable of handling accidents involving artificial respirators and other medical devices, the Japan Association for Clinical Engineering Technologists said Friday.

The association, which conducted a survey in May 2003, said clinical technologists were present at only 41 percent of major hospitals considered key regional medical institutions, and at 48 percent of key cancer specialist hospitals.

The figure was higher at university-affiliated hospitals and at other special institutions for advanced medical services — though it was still only 64 percent.

Clinical technologists are in charge of servicing and operating medical devices to prevent accidents stemming from malfunctions.

According to the Tokyo-based association, unlicensed staff sent from medical device manufacturers sometimes operate equipment during surgery.

In the year that ended March 2003, state-run hospitals alone reported 124 accidents tied to the use of these devices, including accidents that occurred during operations, according to the National Hospital Organization.

The Health, Labor and Welfare Ministry has launched a program to assist hospitals in securing clinical engineering specialists for selecting and servicing medical devices.