Hospitals in Tokyo, Gunma might be stripped of ‘advanced treatment’ status


Two so-called advanced treatment hospitals should have their state certifications revoked because of deaths caused by safety problems, a health ministry subcommittee said in a report.

The Health, Labor and Welfare Ministry is set to hear opinions shortly from Tokyo Women’s Medical University Hospital and Gunma University Hospital. The ministry will then consult the medical subcommittee of its Social Security Council and make a decision on the certification issue by the end of this month.

At Tokyo Women’s Medical University Hospital, 13 children died after being injected with propofol, the powerful sedative that killed pop star Michael Jackson. Propofol is not advised for use on children who are on ventilators, and the deaths could cause the hospital to have its advanced treatment certification revoked for the second time since 2002.

In Gunma Prefecture, eight patients have died at Gunma University Hospital in Maebashi after receiving laparoscope operations to treat liver diseases.

The subcommittee said Tokyo Women’s Medical University Hospital did not have a proper system for drug safety management and that its information-sharing efforts were insufficient, pointing to its doctors’ poor understanding of contraindicated drugs.

At Gunma University Hospital, an in-house reporting system for medical accidents did not work and it had problems filing a report on its investigation into the deaths, the subcommittee said Thursday.

The subcommittee demanded the two hospitals fully examine what was behind the fatal outcomes and take measures to prevent similar deaths. It also urged the health ministry to strengthen on-site inspections of advanced treatment hospitals.

In response, the ministry drew up plans to conduct intensive on-site inspections on advanced treatment hospitals and review the certification criteria for such institutions.

Health minister Yasuhisa Shiozaki apologized to the families of the victims at a news conference the same day, saying he feels very sorry the series of incidents occurred at advanced treatment hospitals where highly specialized medical services are supposed to be provided.