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Training program to cut anesthesia-related death rate

THE nation's anesthesia-related mortality rate is ten times higher than that of major hospitals in Beijing, Shanghai and other big cities due to poor training and outdated equipment, medical experts said today.

Many anesthetists in small hospitals even don't know how to do general anesthesia, experts said at a meeting in Shanghai Ruijin Hospital to launch a nationwide training program provided by the Chinese Medical Association's anesthesia branch and AstraZeneca.

Under the program, 23 training centers in leading hospitals in China will train 6,000 anesthetists in five to seven years.

"The anesthesia-related death rate is one in every 10,000 patients in China while the rate is one in 100,000 in Shanghai and one in 150,000 in leading hospitals like Ruijin," said Dr Xue Qingsheng from the Chinese Medical Association's anesthesia branch. "In top-class American hospitals, the mortality rate is only one in 200,000 patients."

Anesthesia is essential for surgery, but China lags behind developed countries in anesthetic technology and practice. Experts said many Chinese surgeons and anesthetists believe general anesthesia is more risky than regional anesthesia.

"It is wrong. Medical staff has better control over respiration and circulation with general anesthesia," Xue said. "Major hospitals have all adopted general anesthesia in gall bladder surgery, but smaller hospitals still use regional anesthesia due to poor knowledge and skills."

"Because surgeons need to pull the gall bladder in the operation, coronary arteries can trigger a heart problem. It is risky to patients under regional anesthesia," Xue said.

"There were patients who died on the surgery bed due to a heart problem and such accidents are still happening in smaller hospitals," he said.


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