Hospitals in Tokyo refusing flu patients

Kyodo News

An increasing number of patients running a fever have been rejected by Tokyo hospitals that fear they may have swine flu, even though the risk of their being infected is minimal, the metropolitan government said Tuesday.

The number of cases in which hospitals refused medical examinations for such patients totaled 92 from Saturday morning to Tuesday noon, a survey by the metropolitan government found.

“We want hospitals to respond calmly even if they fear that patients infected with the new flu may appear or that other patients will get infected,” a Tokyo official said.

In many cases, patients with fever were told to visit “fever clinics” set up solely to treat people suspected of being infected with the new strain of the H1N1 influenza A virus.

Some patients were rejected by hospitals after reporting that they worked at Narita International Airport or have a foreign friend.

In some cases, patients were rejected by general hospitals after being instructed to go there by fever clinics.

The health ministry plans to conduct a nationwide survey on such rejections, officials said.

No cases of swine flu have been confirmed in Japan, although there have been several cases in which patients tested positive for what later turned out to be different strains of influenza.

The Tokyo government’s division in charge of infectious diseases said refusal by hospitals to conduct examinations could be a violation of the medical practitioners’ law.

“We will consider some sort of measures against malicious refusals to conduct medical examinations by hospitals,” a division official said.