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Quality of medical care on the rise

Wang Xiaodong
Updated: Aug 16,2017 7:14 AM     China Daily

The quality and safety of medical care has risen steadily in China, with patients increasingly benefiting from the adoption of international standards, according to China’s top health authority.

Death rates for inpatients at Grade A public hospitals stood at 0.71 percent, while rates at Grade B public hospitals were 0.48 percent, in 2015-a decrease of 4 percent and 11 percent, respectively, from 2014-said Guo Yanhong, deputy chief of the National Health and Family Planning Commission’s Bureau of Medical Administration, at a news conference on Aug 15.

Death rates for hospitalized patients at Grade A hospitals-the top level of China’s three-tier hospital grading system-were higher than for Grade B because they handle a larger proportion of critically ill patients, she said.

Antibiotics sold by medical institutions in China accounted for 11.2 percent of the total value of the drugs they sold last year, compared with 19.7 percent in 2010, Guo said. Authorities are restricting antibiotics to avoid overuse and the emergence of resistant bacteria.

Public hospitals provided more than 87 percent of all outpatient and emergency services last year, the commission said.

The progress in safety and quality was accomplished despite a rising healthcare burden, with the number of inpatient visits reaching 227 million last year, an increase of 8 percent over 2015, the commission said.

China recorded one of the largest gains among 195 countries and regions between 1990 and 2015 on the Healthcare Access and Quality Index, rising from a ranking of 110th to 60th, according to a report published in May in the prestigious medical journal Lancet.

The index uses the number of deaths from causes that shouldn’t be fatal in the presence of effective medical care as a measure of a population’s access to quality healthcare.

Authorities have made it a priority to improve the quality and safety of medical care in China through the enactment of supervision measures, promotion of standardized care at hospitals and the encouragement of new medical technologies, Guo said.

As a result, China has taken the lead in medical technology in some fields, she said.

Survival rates for lung cancer patients, especially those in the early stages, have increased greatly in China over the past two decades thanks to the increased use of minimally invasive surgeries, said Wang Jun, a professor specializing in chest surgery at Peking University People’s Hospital.

“Doctors from top hospitals in China have the best techniques for chest surgeries, and Chinese do not have to go abroad to seek treatment for lung cancer,” he said.

Huang Yuguang, a professor in anesthesia at Peking Union Medical College Hospital, said that in the early 1990s about one of every 10,000 patients undergoing surgery was at risk of death due to improper anesthesia. But since 2000 the rate has remained at about 12 per 1 million surgical patients-much lower than the average for developing countries.