Article

[Characteristics of patients with intractable diseases receiving public financial aid for treatment--results of a nationwide survey, 1997].

Department of Public Health, Saitama Medical School, 38 Morohongo, Moroyama-machi, Saitama 350-0495, Japan.
Nippon Eiseigaku Zasshi (Japanese Journal of Hygiene) 10/2003; 58(3):357-68.
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT In order to clarify the characteristics of medical institutions visited by patients with selected intractable diseases, we analyzed data from the fourth nationwide survey in 1997.
We asked 47 prefectural governments to provide data concerning every patient receiving financial aid for treatment of 39 selected intractable diseases from April 1997 to March 1998. Out of 399,719 whose information was reported by prefectural governments, we analysed data of 370,232 patients whose medical institutions were reported. We performed detailed analysis on the relation between patients' residences and locations of medical institution which the patients visited, and on the characteristics of medical institutions. These analyses were respectively compared by sex and age, the beginning year of the financial aid, whether the patients were inpatients or outpatients, type of insurance, and clinical division where the patient was treated.
1. Analysis showed that 7.4% of all patients were treated in medical institutions outside the prefectures where they lived. Patients who lived in the neighboring prefectures of huge cities like Tokyo, tended to be treated in the medical institutions there. 2. We found that 23.5% of patients were treated in university hospitals, and 11.9% were seen in clinics. 3. There was a difference between patients with SMON and patients with myastenia gravis, pemphigus, epidermolysis bullosa or primary pulmonary hypertension. Of the two groups, the former preferred to visit clinics and be treated in medical institutions located in the same cities, towns, and villages where they lived. On the contrary, patients with the latter 4 diseases tended to visit large hospitals and be treated in those outside their prefectures. 4. Elderly patients over 70 years old tended to be treated in clinics or hospitals located in their neighborhoods. 5. Compared with past surveys, the percentage of patients treated in university hospitals had decreased, and that of patients treated in clinics had increased year by year. No change was found in the proportion of patients treated in medical institutions outside their prefectures.
By the present analysis of a nationwide survey taken in fiscal year 1997, we were able to clarify the characteristics of medical institutions visited by patients with selected intractable diseases. This kind of analysis should be continued to obtain important information on the epidemiology of intractable diseases.

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Hiroshi Fuchigami