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A national union for nurses and other medical workers urged the government Wednesday to greatly increase the number of nurses to prevent the recurrence of medical accidents they say could be avoided with more medical help.

Hisako Ejiri, president of the Japan Federation of Medical Workers’ Unions, told reporters in Tokyo that the organization visited the Health and Welfare Ministry earlier in the day to submit a set of suggestions that states that recently reported cases of malpractice were partly caused by understaffed medical facilities. “The number of nurses per 100 hospital beds is about 42 in Japan, whereas corresponding figures are 197 in the U.S., 93 in Germany, 66 in France and 65 in Britain,” said Toshimi Omura, vice president of the organization.

Under the situation, safe and sufficient medical care cannot be provided for patients, said Omura. The situation has also led to a poor working environment for nurses, a majority of whom are forced to work nearly 10 night shifts per month, prompting them to end their careers early.

Hiroko Kanai, a senior union nurse at the Tokyo Metropolitan Hiroo Hospital where a female patient died last month after being injected with a disinfectant instead of an anticoagulant, said the average nurse at the hospital quits after about nine years on the job. “It means that the experiences they have gained are wasted. Although we receive a number of new graduate nurses every year, we don’t have a sufficient number of experienced nurses to teach them,” she said.

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