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1.  Lag time in an incident reporting system at a university hospital in Japan 
Quality & Safety in Health Care  2007;16(2):101-104.
Delays and underreporting limit the success of hospital incident reporting systems, but little is known about the causes or implications of delayed reporting.
Setting and methods
The authors examined 6880 incident reports filed by physicians and nurses for three years at a national university hospital in Japan and evaluated the lag time between each incident and the submission of a report.
Although physicians and nurses reported nearly equal numbers of events resulting in major injury (32 v 31), physicians reported far fewer minor incidents (430 v 6387) and far fewer incidents overall (462 v 6418). In univariate analyses, lag time was significantly longer for physicians than nurses (3.79 v 2.20 days; p<0.001). In multivariate analysis, physicians had adjusted reporting lag time 75% longer than nurses (p<0.001) and lag time for major injuries was 18% shorter than for minor injuries (p = 0.011). Adjusted lag time in 2002 and 2004 were 34% longer than in 2003 (p<0.001).
Physicians report fewer incidents than nurses and take longer to report them. Quantitative evaluation of lag time may facilitate improvements in incident reporting systems by distinguishing institutional obstacles to physician reporting from physicians' lesser willingness to report.
PMCID: PMC2653144  PMID: 17403754
2.  Definitions, pathophysiology, and epidemiology of acute cholangitis and cholecystitis: Tokyo Guidelines 
This article discusses the definitions, pathophysiology, and epidemiology of acute cholangitis and cholecystitis. Acute cholangitis and cholecystitis mostly originate from stones in the bile ducts and gallbladder. Acute cholecystitis also has other causes, such as ischemia; chemicals that enter biliary secretions; motility disorders associated with drugs; infections with microorganisms, protozoa, and parasites; collagen disease; and allergic reactions. Acute acalculous cholecystitis is associated with a recent operation, trauma, burns, multisystem organ failure, and parenteral nutrition. Factors associated with the onset of cholelithiasis include obesity, age, and drugs such as oral contraceptives. The reported mortality of less than 10% for acute cholecystitis gives an impression that it is not a fatal disease, except for the elderly and/or patients with acalculous disease. However, there are reports of high mortality for cholangitis, although the mortality differs greatly depending on the year of the report and the severity of the disease. Even reports published in and after the 1980s indicate high mortality, ranging from 10% to 30% in the patients, with multiorgan failure as a major cause of death. Because many of the reports on acute cholecystitis and cholangitis use different standards, comparisons are difficult. Variations in treatment and risk factors influencing the mortality rates indicate the necessity for standardized diagnostic, treatment, and severity assessment criteria.
PMCID: PMC2784509  PMID: 17252293
Gallstones; Biliary; Bile; Biliary infection; Cholangitis; Acute cholecystitis; Guidelines
3.  Background: Tokyo Guidelines for the management of acute cholangitis and cholecystitis 
There are no evidence-based-criteria for the diagnosis, severity assessment, of treatment of acute cholecysitis or acute cholangitis. For example, the full complement of symptoms and signs described as Charcot’s triad and as Reynolds’ pentad are infrequent and as such do not really assist the clinician with planning management strategies. In view of these factors, we launched a project to prepare evidence-based guidelines for the management of acute cholangitis and cholecystitis that will be useful in the clinical setting. This research has been funded by the Japanese Ministry of Health, Labour, and Welfare, in cooperation with the Japanese Society for Abdominal Emergency Medicine, the Japan Biliary Association, and the Japanese Society of Hepato-Biliary-Pancreatic Surgery. A working group, consisting of 46 experts in gastroenterology, surgery, internal medicine, emergency medicine, intensive care, and clinical epidemiology, analyzed and examined the literature on patients with cholangitis and cholecystitis in order to produce evidence-based guidelines. During the investigations we found that there was a lack of high-level evidence, for treatments, and the working group formulated the guidelines by obtaining consensus, based on evidence categorized by level, according to the Oxford Centre for Evidence-Based Medicine Levels of Evidence of May 2001 (version 1). This work required more than 20 meetings to obtain a consensus on each item from the working group. Then four forums were held to permit examination of the Guideline details in Japan, both by an external assessment committee and by the working group participants (version 2). As we knew that the diagnosis and management of acute biliary infection may differ from country to country, we appointed a publication committee and held 12 meetings to prepare draft Guidelines in English (version 3). We then had several discussions on these draft guidelines with leading experts in the field throughout the world, via e-mail, leading to version 4. Finally, an International Consensus Meeting took place in Tokyo, on 1–2 April, 2006, to obtain international agreement on diagnostic criteria, severity assessment, and management.
PMCID: PMC2784507  PMID: 17252291
Cholangitis; Cholecystitis; Charcot’s triad; Reynold’s pentad; Biliary drainage
4.  Need for criteria for the diagnosis and severity assessment of acute cholangitis and cholecystitis: Tokyo Guidelines 
The Tokyo Guidelines formulate clinical guidance for healthcare providers regarding the diagnosis, severity assessment, and treatment of acute cholangitis and acute cholecystitis. The Guidelines were developed through a comprehensive literature search and selection of evidence. Recommendations were based on the strength and quality of evidence. Expert consensus opinion was used to enhance or formulate important areas where data were insufficient. A working group, composed of gastroenterologists and surgeons with expertise in biliary tract surgery, supplemented with physicians in critical care medicine, epidemiology, and laboratory medicine, was selected to formulate draft guidelines. Several other groups (including members of the Japanese Society for Abdominal Emergency Medicine, the Japan Biliary Association, and the Japanese Society of Hepato-Biliary-Pancreatic Surgery) have reviewed and revised the draft guidelines. To build a global consensus on the management of acute biliary infection, an international expert panel, representing experts in this area, was established. Between April 1 and 2, 2006, an International Consensus Meeting on acute biliary infections was held in Tokyo. A consensus was determined based on best available scientific evidence and discussion by the panel of experts. This report describes the highlights of the Tokyo International Consensus Meeting in 2006. Some important areas focused on at the meeting include proposals for internationally accepted diagnostic criteria and severity assessment for both clinical and research purposes.
PMCID: PMC2784506  PMID: 17252292
Evidence-based medicine; Practice guidelines; Acute cholecystitis; Acute cholangitis
5.  Results of the Tokyo Consensus Meeting Tokyo Guidelines 
A systematic review of references conducted in the process of developing the Guidelines for the Management of Acute Cholangitis and Cholecystitis did not find many high-quality research reports. There were no criteria for diagnosis, severity assessment, or patient transfer, and no established principles of clinical practice guidelines for acute cholangitis and cholecystitis. In order to develop guidelines that would be useful in clinical practice, an understanding of the current status of clinical practice for acute cholangitis and cholecystitis was considered essential. After several open symposia and a survey of these two diseases, we developed and published a Japanese-language version of Evidence-Based Practice Guidelines for the Management of Acute Cholangitis and Cholecystitis. In order to prepare international Guidelines, we had repeated discussions about the draft Guidelines together with international experts, and, following the Consensus Meeting, held on April 1–2, 2006, in Tokyo, with the attendance of 300 world experts in the field, the International Guidelines for the Management of Acute Cholangitis and Cholecystitis were developed. In this article, we outline the comments and opinions given at the International Meeting and how they are reflected in the final version of the Guidelines.
PMCID: PMC2784505  PMID: 17252304
Guidelines; Consensus development meeting; Evidence-based medicine; Cholangitis; Acute cholecystitis
6.  JPN Guidelines for the management of acute pancreatitis:surgical management 
Acute pancreatitis represents a spectrum of disease ranging from a mild, self-limited course to a rapidly progressive, severe illness. The mortality rate of severe acute pancreatitis exceeds 20%, and some patients diagnosed as mild to moderate acute pancreatitis at the onset of the disease may progress to a severe, life-threatening illness within 2–3 days. The Japanese (JPN) guidelines were designed to provide recommendations regarding the management of acute pancreatitis in patients having a diversity of clinical characteristics. This article sets forth the JPN guidelines for the surgical management of acute pancreatitis, excluding gallstone pancreatitis, by incorporating the latest evidence for the surgical management of severe pancreatitis in the Japanese-language version of the evidence-based Guidelines for the Management of Acute Pancreatitis published in 2003. Ten guidelines are proposed: (1) computed tomography-guided or ultrasound-guided fine-needle aspiration for bacteriology should be performed in patients suspected of having infected pancreatic necrosis; (2) infected pancreatic necrosis accompanied by signs of sepsis is an indication for surgical intervention; (3) patients with sterile pancreatic necrosis should be managed conservatively, and surgical intervention should be performed only in selected cases, such as those with persistent organ complications or severe clinical deterioration despite maximum intensive care; (4) early surgical intervention is not recommended for necrotizing pancreatitis; (5) necrosectomy is recommended as the surgical procedure for infected pancreatic necrosis; (6) simple drainage should be avoided after necrosectomy, and either continuous closed lavage or open drainage should be performed; (7) surgical or percutaneous drainage should be performed for pancreatic abscess; (8) pancreatic abscesses for which clinical findings are not improved by percutaneous drainage should be subjected to surgical drainage immediately; (9) pancreatic pseudocysts that produce symptoms and complications or the diameter of which increases should be drained percutaneously or endoscopically; and (10) pancreatic pseudocysts that do not tend to improve in response to percutaneous drainage or endoscopic drainage should be managed surgically.
PMCID: PMC2779397  PMID: 16463211
Necrotizing pancreatitis; Infected pancreatic necrosis; Sterile pancreatic necrosis; Pancreatic abscess; Pancreatic pseudocyst
7.  JPN Guidelines for the management of acute pancreatitis: treatment of gallstone-induced acute pancreatitis 
Gallstones, along with alcohol, are one of the primary etiological factors of acute pancreatitis, and knowledge of the etiology as well as the diagnosis and management of gallstones, is crucial for managing acute pancreatitis. Because of this, evidence regarding the management of gallstone-induced pancreatitis in Japan was collected, and recommendation levels were established by comparing current clinical practices with optimal clinical practices. The JPN Guidelines for managing gallstone-induced acute pancreatitis recommend two procedures: (1) an urgent endoscopic procedure should be performed in patients in whom biliary duct obstruction is suspected and in patients complicated by cholangitis (Recommendation A); and (2) after the attack of gallstone pancreatitis has subsided, a laparoscopic cholecystectomy should be performed during the same hospital stay (Recommendation B).
PMCID: PMC2779396  PMID: 16463212
Gallstone pancreatitis; Emergency endoscopy; Laparoscopic cholecystectomy
8.  JPN Guidelines for the management of acute pancreatitis: medical management of acute pancreatitis 
The basic principles of the initial management of acute pancreatitis are adequate monitoring of vital signs, fluid replacement, correction of any electrolyte imbalance, nutritional support, and the prevention of local and systemic complications. Patients with severe acute pancreatitis should be transferred to a medical facility where adequate monitoring and intensive medical care are available. Strict cardiovascular and respiratory monitoring is mandatory for maintaining the cardiopulmonary system in patients with severe acute pancreatitis. Maximum fluid replacement is needed to stabilize the cardiovascular system. Prophylactic antibiotic administration is recommended to prevent infectious complications in patients with necrotizing pancreatitis. Although the efficacy of the intravenous administration of protease inhibitors is still a matter of controversy, there is a consensus in Japan that a large dose of a synthetic protease inhibitor should be given to patients with severe acute pancreatitis in order to prevent organ failure and other complications. Enteral feeding is superior to parenteral nutrition when it comes to the nutritional support of patients with severe acute pancreatitis. The JPN Guidelines recommend, as optional measures, blood purification therapy and continuous regional arterial infusion of a protease inhibitor and antibiotics, depending on the patient’s condition.
PMCID: PMC2779395  PMID: 16463210
Acute pancreatitis; Conservative management; Antibiotics; Nutritional support; Protease inhibitor
9.  Management strategy for acute pancreatitis in the JPN Guidelines 
The diagnosis of acute pancreatitis is based on the following findings: (1) acute attacks of abdominal pain and tenderness in the epigastric region, (2) elevated blood levels of pancreatic enzymes, and (3) abnormal diagnostic imaging findings in the pancreas associated with acute pancreatitis. In Japan, in accordance with criteria established by the Japanese Ministry of Health, Labour, and Welfare, the severity of acute pancreatitis is assessed based on the clinical signs, hematological findings, and imaging findings, including abdominal contrast-enhanced computed tomography (CT) and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). Severity must be re-evaluated, especially in the period 24 to 48 h after the onset of acute pancreatitis, because even cases diagnosed as mild or moderate in the early stage may rapidly progress to severe. Management is selected according to the severity of acute pancreatitis, but it is imperative that an adequate infusion volume, vital-sign monitoring, and pain relief be instituted immediately after diagnosis in every patient. Patients with severe cases are treated with broad-spectrum antimicrobial agents, a continuous high-dose protease inhibitor, and continuous intraarterial infusion of protease inhibitors and antimicrobial agents; continuous hemodiafiltration may also be used to manage patients with severe cases. Whenever possible, transjejunal enteral nutrition should be administered, even in patients with severe cases, because it seems to decrease morbidity. Necrosectomy is performed when necrotizing pancreatitis is complicated by infection. In this case, continuous closed lavage or open drainage (planned necrosectomy) should be the selected procedure. Pancreatic abscesses are treated by surgical or percutaneous drainage. Emergency endoscopic procedures are given priority over other methods of management in patients with acute gallstone-associated pancreatitis, patients suspected of having bile duct obstruction, and patients with acute gallstone pancreatitis complicated by cholangitis. These strategies for the management of acute pancreatitis are shown in the algorithm in this article.
PMCID: PMC2779393  PMID: 16463213
Acute pancreatitis; Algorithm; Guidelines; Decision-making; Evidence-based medicine
10.  JPN Guidelines for the management of acute pancreatitis: cutting-edge information 
The JPN Guidelines for the Management of Acute Pancreatitis are organized under the subject headings: epidemiology, diagnosis, management strategy, severity assessment and transfer criteria, management of gallstone pancreatitis, nonsurgical management, and surgical management. The Guidelines contain cutting-edge information on each of these subjects, as well as a section on the Japanese medical insurance system which provides information that should prove useful to physicians in other countries. The quality of the evidence was evaluated by the evidence-based classification method used at the Cochrane Library. The levels of recommendation of the individual management methods contained in the Guidelines were determined on the basis of the evaluation of evidence by the consensus of the members of the Working Group (see below). The Japanese Society for Abdominal Emergency Medicine, the Japan Pancreas Society, and the Research Group for Intractable Diseases and Refractory Pancreatic Diseases (which is sponsored by the Japanese Ministry of Health, Labour, and Welfare) were commissioned to produce the JPN Guidelines for the Management of Acute Pancreatitis. A Working Group of 20 physicians specializing in pancreatic diseases and emergency medicine investigated and analyzed 14821 cases retrieved by means of a Medline (1960–2004) search and discussed the available literature on acute pancreatitis (limited to human pancreatitis). The Working Group held many general discussions in order to reach a consensus on the content of the Guidelines. After producing a draft, the Publishing Committee of the JPN Guidelines for the Management of Acute Pancreatitis posted it on a website and asked for comments and criticisms. Subsequently, a final version of the Guidelines was published in Japanese in 2003. The Publishing Committee is now making the Guidelines available to a much wider readership by bringing out an English version.
PMCID: PMC2779369  PMID: 16463205
EBM; Acute pancreatitis; Gallstone pancreatitis; Pancreatitis epidemiology; Pancreatitis etiology
11.  JPN Guidelines for the management of acute pancreatitis: epidemiology, etiology, natural history, and outcome predictors in acute pancreatitis 
Acute pancreatitis is a common disease with an annual incidence of between 5 and 80 people per 100 000 of the population. The two major etiological factors responsible for acute pancreatitis are alcohol and cholelithiasis (gallstones). The proportion of patients with pancreatitis caused by alcohol or gallstones varies markedly in different countries and regions. The incidence of acute alcoholic pancreatitis is considered to be associated with high alcohol consumption. Although the incidence of alcoholic pancreatitis is much higher in men than in women, there is no difference in sexes in the risk involved after adjusting for alcohol intake. Other risk factors include endoscopic retrograde cholangiopancreatography, surgery, therapeutic drugs, HIV infection, hyperlipidemia, and biliary tract anomalies. Idiopathic acute pancreatitis is defined as acute pancreatitis in which the etiological factor cannot be specified. However, several studies have suggested that this entity includes cases caused by other specific disorders such as microlithiasis. Acute pancreatitis is a potentially fatal disease with an overall mortality of 2.1%–7.8%. The outcome of acute pancreatitis is determined by two factors that reflect the severity of the illness: organ failure and pancreatic necrosis. About half of the deaths in patients with acute pancreatitis occur within the first 1–2 weeks and are mainly attributable to multiple organ dysfunction syndrome (MODS). Depending on patient selection, necrotizing pancreatitis develops in approximately 10%–20% of patients and the mortality is high, ranging from 14% to 25% of these patients. Infected pancreatic necrosis develops in 30%–40% of patients with necrotizing pancreatitis and the incidence of MODS in such patients is high. The recurrence rate of acute pancreatitis is relatively high: almost half the patients with acute alcoholic pancreatitis experience a recurrence. When the gallstones are not treated, the risk of recurrence in gallstone pancreatitis ranges from 32% to 61%. After recovering from acute pancreatitis, about one-third to one-half of acute pancreatitis patients develop functional disorders, such as diabetes mellitus and fatty stool; the incidence of chronic pancreatitis after acute pancreatitis ranges from 3% to 13%. Nevertheless, many reports have shown that most patients who recover from acute pancreatitis regain good general health and return to their usual daily routine. Some authors have emphasized that endocrine function disorders are a common complication after severe acute pancreatitis has been treated by pancreatic resection.
PMCID: PMC2779368  PMID: 16463207
Pancreatitis; Epidemiology; Etiology; Survival rate; Treatment outcome
12.  Health insurance system and payments provided to patients for the management of severe acute pancreatitis in Japan 
The health insurance system in Japan is based upon the Universal Medical Care Insurance System, which gives all citizens the right to join an insurance scheme of their own choice, as guaranteed by the provisions of Article 25 of the Constitution of Japan, which states: “All people shall have the right to maintain the minimum standards of wholesome and cultured living.” The health care system in Japan includes national medical insurance, nursing care for the elderly, and government payments for the treatment of intractable diseases. Medical insurance provisions are handled by Employee’s Health Insurance (Social Insurance), which mainly covers employees of private companies and their families, and by National Health Insurance, which provides for the needs of self-employed people. Both schemes have their own medical care service programs for retired persons and their families. The health care system for the elderly covers people 75 years of age and over and bedridden people 65 years of age and over. There is also a system under which the government pays all or part of medical expenses, and/or pays medical expenses not covered by insurance. This is referred to collectively as the “medical expenses payment system” and includes the provision of medical assistance for specified intractable diseases. Because severe acute pancreatitis has a high mortality rate, it is specified as an intractable disease. In order to lower the mortality rate of various diseases, including severe acute pancreatitis, the specification system has been adopted by the government. The cost of treatment for severe acute pancreatitis is paid in full by the government from the date the application is made for a certificate verifying that the patient has an intractable disease.
PMCID: PMC2779366  PMID: 16463206
Medical care system; Acute pancreatitis; Japan’s health insurance system; Government payment system
13.  JPN Guidelines for the management of acute pancreatitis: diagnostic criteria for acute pancreatitis 
The currently used diagnostic criteria for acute pancreatitis in Japan are presentation with at least two of the following three manifestations: (1) acute abdominal pain and tenderness in the upper abdomen; (2) elevated levels of pancreatic enzyme in the blood, urine, or ascitic fluid; and (3) abnormal imaging findings in the pancreas associated with acute pancreatitis. When a diagnosis is made on this basis, other pancreatic diseases and acute abdomen can be ruled out. The purpose of this article is to review the conventional criteria and, in particular, the various methods of diagnosis based on pancreatic enzyme values, with the aim of improving the quality of diagnosis of acute pancreatitis and formulating common internationally agreed criteria. The review considers the following recommendations:
— Better even than the total blood amylase level, the blood lipase level is the best pancreatic enzyme for the diagnosis of acute pancreatitis and its differentiation from other diseases.
— A pivotal factor in the diagnosis of acute pancreatitis is identifying an increase in pancreatic enzymes in the blood.
— Ultrasonography (US) is also one of the procedures that should be performed in all patients with suspected acute pancreatitis.
— Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) is one of the most important imaging procedures for diagnosing acute pancreatitis and its intraperitoneal complications.
— Computed tomography (CT) is also one of the most important imaging procedures for diagnosing acute pancreatitis and its intraabdominal complications. CT should be performed when a diagnosis of acute pancreatitis cannot be established on the basis of the clinical findings, results of blood and urine tests, or US, or when the etiology of the pancreatitis is unknown.
— When acute pancreatitis is suspected, chest and abdominal X-ray examinations should be performed to determine whether any abnormal findings caused by acute pancreatitis are present.
— Because the etiology of acute pancreatitis can have a crucial influence on both the treatment policy and severity assessment, it should be evaluated promptly and accurately. It is particularly important to differentiate between gallstone-induced acute pancreatitis, which requires treatment of the biliary system, and alcohol-induced acute pancreatitis, which requires a different form of treatment.
PMCID: PMC2779365  PMID: 16463208
Acute pancreatitis; Criteria for diagnosing acute pancreatitis; Laboratory diagnosis; Computed tomography
14.  JPN Guidelines for the management of acute pancreatitis: severity assessment of acute pancreatitis 
This article addresses the criteria for severity assessment and the severity scoring system of the Ministry of Health and Welfare of Japan; now the Japanese Ministry of Health, Labour, and Welfare (the JPN score). It also presents data comparing the JPN score with the Acute Physiology and Chronic Health Evaluation (APACHE) II score and the Ranson score, which are the major measuring scales used in the United States and Europe. The goal of investigating these scoring systems is the achievement of earlier diagnosis and more appropriate and successful treatment of severe or moderate acute pancreatitis, which has a high mortality rate. This article makes the following recommendations in terms of assessing the severity of acute pancreatitis:
(1) Severity assessment is indispensable to the selection of proper initial treatment in the management of acute pancreatitis (Recommendation A).
(2) Assessment by a severity scoring system (JPN score, APACHE II score) is important for determining treatment policy and identifying the need for transfer to a specialist unit (Recommendation A).
(3) C-reactive protein (CRP) is a useful indicator for assessing severity (Recommendation A).
(4) Contrast-enhanced computed tomography (CT) scanning and contrast-enhanced magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) play an important role in severity assessment (Recommendation A).
(5) A JPN score of 2 or more (severe acute pancreatitis) has been established as the criterion for hospital transfer (Recommendation A).
(6) It is preferable to transfer patients with severe acute pancreatitis to a specialist medical institution where they can receive continuous monitoring and systemic management.
PMCID: PMC2779364  PMID: 16463209
Severity assessment; Acute pancreatitis; JPN score; APACHE II score
15.  Medical Student Abuse During Clinical Clerkships in Japan 
To assess the prevalence of medical student abuse during clinical clerkships in Japan.
A cross-sectional questionnaire survey.
Six medical schools in Japan.
Final year (sixth-year) and fifth-year medical students in the period from September 2003 to January 2004. From a total of 559 students solicited, 304 (54.4%) returned the questionnaire, and 276 (49.4%: 178 male and 98 female) completed it.
Prevalence of medical student abuse in 5 categories: verbal abuse, physical abuse, academic abuse, sexual harassment, and gender discrimination; differences in abusive experience between male and female students; types of alleged abusers; reporting abusive experiences to authorities; and emotional effects of abusive experiences.
Medical student abuse was reported by 68.5% of the respondents. Verbal abuse was the most frequently experienced abuse (male students 52.8%, female students 63.3%). Sexual harassment was experienced significantly more often (P<.001) by female students (54.1%) than by male students (14.6%). Faculty members were most often reported as abusers (45.2% of cases). Abuse occurred most frequently during surgical rotations (42.0% of cases), followed by internal medicine (25.1%) and anesthesia rotations (21.8%). Very few abused students reported their abusive experiences to authorities (8.5%). The most frequent emotional response to abuse was anger (27.1% of cases).
Although experience of abuse during clinical clerkships is common among medical students in Japan, the concept of “medical student abuse” is not yet familiar to Japanese. To improve the learning environment, medical educators need to take action to resolve this serious issue.
PMCID: PMC1828085  PMID: 16390504
clerkships; education; Japan; medical student abuse; questionnaire; sexual harassment
16.  Why are physicians not persuaded by scientific evidence? A grounded theory interview study 
The government-led "evidence-based guidelines for cataract treatment" labelled pirenoxine and glutathione eye drops, which have been regarded as the standard care for cataracts in Japan, as lacking evidence of effectiveness, causing great upset among ophthalmologists and professional ophthalmology societies. This study investigated the reasons why such "scientific evidence of treatment effectiveness" is not easily accepted by physicians, and thus, why they do not change their clinical practices to reflect such evidence.
We conducted a qualitative study based on grounded theory to explore physicians' awareness of "scientific evidence" and evidence-supported treatment in relation to pirenoxine and glutathione eye drops, and to identify current barriers to the implementation of evidence-based policies in clinical practice. Interviews were conducted with 35 ophthalmologists and 3 general practitioners on their prescribing behaviours, perceptions of eye drop effectiveness, attitudes toward the eye drop guideline recommendations, and their perceptions of "scientific evidence."
Although few physicians believed that eye drops are remarkably effective, the majority of participants reported that they prescribed eye drops to patients who asked for them, and that such patients accounted for a considerable proportion of those with cataracts. Physicians seldom attempted to explain to patients the limitations of effectiveness or to encourage them to stop taking the eye drops. Physicians also acknowledged the benefits of prescribing such drugs, which ultimately outweighed any uncertainty of their effectiveness. These benefits included economic incentives and a desire to be appreciated by patients. Changes in clinical practice were considered to bring little benefit to physicians or patients. Government approval, rarity of side effects, and low cost of the drops also encouraged prescription.
Physicians occasionally provide treatment without expecting remarkable therapeutic effectiveness, as exemplified by the use of eye drops. This finding highlights that scientific evidence alone cannot easily change physicians' clinical practices, unless evidence-based practices are accepted by the general public and supported by health policy.
PMCID: PMC1555581  PMID: 16872522
17.  Impact of treatment policies on patient outcomes and resource utilization in acute cholecystitis in Japanese hospitals 
Although currently available evidence predominantly recommends early laparoscopic cholecystectomy (LC) for the treatment of acute cholecystitis, this strategy has not been widely adopted in Japan. Herein, we describe a hospital-based study of patients with acute cholecystitis in 9 Japanese teaching hospitals in order to evaluate the impact of different institutional strategies in treating acute cholecystitis on overall patient outcomes and medical resource utilization.
From an administrative database and chart review, we identified 228 patients diagnosed with acute cholecystitis who underwent cholecystectomy between April 2001 and June 2003. In order to examine the relationship between hospitals' propensity to perform LC and patient outcomes and/or medical resource utilization, we divided the hospitals into three groups according to the observed to expected ratio of performing LC (LC propensity), and compared the postoperative complication rate, length of hospitalization (LOS), and medical charges.
No hospital adopted the policy of early surgery, and the mean overall LOS among the subjects was 30.9 days. The use of laparoscopic surgery varied widely across the hospitals; the adjusted rates of LC to total cholecystectomies ranged from 9.5% to 77%. Although intra-operative complication rate was significantly higher among patients whom LC was initially attempted when compared to those whom OC was initially attempted (9.7% vs. 0%), there was no significant association between LC propensity and postoperative complication rates. Although the postoperative time to oral intake and postoperative LOS was significantly shorter in hospitals with high use of LC, the overall LOS did not differ among hospital groups with different LC propensities. Medical charges were not associated with LC propensity.
Under the prevailing policy of delayed surgery, in terms of the postoperative complication rate and medical resource utilization, our study did not show the superiority of LC in treating acute cholecystitis patients. The timing of surgery and discharge was mainly determined by the institutional policy in Japan, rather than by the clinical course of the patient; however, considering the substantially less postoperative pain and shorter recovery time of LC compared to OC, LC should be actively applied for the treatment of acute cholecystitis. If the policy of early surgery were universally applied, the advantage of LC over OC may be more clearly demonstrated.
PMCID: PMC1488841  PMID: 16569249
18.  Patients' preferences for involvement in treatment decision making in Japan 
A number of previous studies have suggested that the Japanese have few opportunities to participate in medical decision-making, as a result both of entrenched physician paternalism and national characteristics of dependency and passivity. The hypothesis that Japanese patients would wish to participate in treatment decision-making if adequate information were provided, and the decision to be made was clearly identified, was tested by interview survey.
The subjects were diabetic patients at a single outpatient clinic in Kyoto. One of three case study vignettes (pneumonia, gangrene or cancer) was randomly assigned to each subject and, employing face-to-face interviews, the subjects were asked what their wishes would be as patients, for treatment information, participation in decision-making and family involvement.
134 patients participated in the study, representing a response rate of 90%. The overall proportions of respondents who preferred active, collaborative, and passive roles were 12%, 71%, and 17%, respectively. Respondents to the cancer vignette were less likely to prefer an active role and were more likely to prefer family involvement in decision-making compared to non-cancer vignette respondents. If a physician's recommendation conflicted with their own wishes, 60% of the respondents for each vignette answered that they would choose to respect the physician's opinion, while few respondents would give the family's preference primary importance.
Our study suggested that a majority of Japanese patients have positive attitudes towards participation in medical decision making if they are fully informed. Physicians will give greater patient satisfaction if they respond to the desire of patients for participation in decision-making.
PMCID: PMC375530  PMID: 15053839
19.  Attitudes of the Japanese public and doctors towards use of archived information and samples without informed consent: Preliminary findings based on focus group interviews 
BMC Medical Ethics  2002;3:1.
The purpose of this study is to explore laypersons' attitudes toward the use of archived (existing) materials such as medical records and biological samples and to compare them with the attitudes of physicians who are involved in medical research.
Three focus group interviews were conducted, in which seven Japanese male members of the general public, seven female members of the general public and seven physicians participated.
It was revealed that the lay public expressed diverse attitudes towards the use of archived information and samples without informed consent. Protecting a subject's privacy, maintaining confidentiality, and communicating the outcomes of studies to research subjects were regarded as essential preconditions if researchers were to have access to archived information and samples used for research without the specific informed consent of the subjects who provided the material. Although participating physicians thought that some kind of prior permission from subjects was desirable, they pointed out the difficulties involved in obtaining individual informed consent in each case.
The present preliminary study indicates that the lay public and medical professionals may have different attitudes towards the use of archived information and samples without specific informed consent. This hypothesis, however, is derived from our focus groups interviews, and requires validation through research using a larger sample.
PMCID: PMC65520  PMID: 11825345

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