Personal doctor to help pregnant women

Taoyuan General Hospital Anning Center for Patient Care director Shih Tzu-chien on Thursday gives a talk on the Patient Right to Autonomy Act./Photo courtesy of Taipei Times

A planned open hospitals program would allow pregnant women to make prenatal visits at nearby clinics and give birth under the care of the same physician at cooperating hospitals, the Ministry of Health and Welfare said yesterday.

Ministry of the Interior data showed that about 180,000 babies were born in Taiwan last year, the lowest number in eight years, and the program should make childbirth more mother-friendly in the hope of boosting the fertility rate, the health ministry said.

Some clinics refuse to perform deliveries due to limited resources, but under the open hospitals program, hospitals and clinics would share resources, including operating theaters, examination equipment and medical practitioners.

Dealing with only one physician should also put pregnant woman at ease, the ministry said.

Having the same physician from prenatal checkups to delivery makes for better privacy and reduces the chance of infection compared with using large hospitals, Department of Medical Affairs Director-General Shih Chung-liang said.

The ministry also plans to award clinics a NT$10,000 subsidy for each child they deliver in cooperation with a hospital and would consider including the associated fees in the National Health Insurance system if a trial is successful, he said.

The trial is expected to launch by the middle of the year, he added.

In related news, the Taipei Department of Health yesterday announced a list of 10 healthcare facilities in the city that provide advance care planning (ACP), after the Patient Right to Autonomy Act took effect last week.

According to the act, competent people older than 20 and fully capable of making their own decisions can record in advance what treatment they want to receive if they become unconscious or unable to clearly express their wishes and medical practitioners must carry out the instructions.

The patient is required to consult with medical professionals at a certified healthcare facility on their ACP decisions before signing the form.

The municipal department ran an ACP consultation trial in 2016, expanded ACP consultation training courses last year and was also the first in Taiwan to cap maximum fees for ACP consultation at NT$3,500 per person per hour, a guideline that has been adopted by the health ministry, it said.

Ten hospitals in the city now provide ACP consultation services, the department said, adding that making an appointment is necessary.

The institutions include National Taiwan University Hospital, Taipei Veterans General Hospital, Mackay Memorial Hospital’s Taipei Branch, Shin Kong Wu Ho-Su Memorial Hospital, Taipei Municipal Wanfang Hospital, Cathay General Hospital and Tri-Service General Hospital, as well as Taipei City Hospital’s seven branches, Taipei Medical University Hospital and Cheng Hsin General Hospital.

Source: Overseas Community Affairs Council