Tuesday, February 20, 2007


I’ve been mystified by two things lately.

1. The Japanese health care system. It’s a strange land where general practitioners are all but extinct, having been displaced by specialists who refuse to do anything about anything unless it’s directly related to their field of practice. A medical degree seems lacking somehow when the doctor on duty can’t even check your throat or ears for infection because he’s not an eye/ear/throat degree carrying expert.

2. The issuing of “dry air warnings” during the news hour. The last time one went out, I hopped online and looked at the current humidity levels. Curiosity and all that. It was at 85 percent.

I guess the sensation of swimming through the air has lessened of late… I had been mistakenly attributing it to climate acclimation.

...raindrops keep falling on my head...


Anonymous said...

>>...raindrops keep falling on my head...

... In your apartment?? :D

Now, some comments on the post:

1) Healthcare system

I think it has to do with how the Japanese society don't allow mistakes and liability of making mistakes could be literally life-threatening and career-destroying. So doctors specialize and limit their expertise to a certain body part in order to minimize the "liability coverage." They can also eliminate all the extra work of learning the other body parts, and they can say "Oops, it's not my fault since I'm a ear doctor and your problem is on your left leg."

On the side note, Japanese dentists never finish anything in just one visit no matter how simple the actual work might be. For example, a routine plaque removal goes like this: In your first visit, they just work on your upper teeth, which takes about 10 minutes max. In the second visit they work on your lower teeth, which also takes about 10 minutes max. In the third visit "The big sensei" comes out and do his usual comprehensive check-up, which takes about 2 minutes max, and then another nurse would teach you how to floss properly. You pay about ¥2,000 ~ ¥2,500 grand total at the most, but they get to file three separate insurance statements since they divided one appointment into three. Patient's share is 30% of the total cost. Go figure...

2) "Dry Air Warning"
Kisyoh-choh (Japan Meteorological Agency) web site has an official statement on the purpose of "Dry Air Warning" :

"Kansoh Chuh-e Hoh is issued when the air is very dry and there is a greater possibility of natural disaster. (i.e. forest fire)"

Basically it's a warning for those living up in the mountain so they are prepared to run. Useful or not? Well, that's debatable.... :D

For a complete listing of all warnings is available at the following URL. Sorry, it's Japanese only... there is a link to their English site but they don't have the same article in there. Oh well... Maybe Google Language Tools might help (http://www.google.com/language_tools?hl=en)


Star said...

Now that's a nice plethora of information :)

I figured the reasoning behind the hospital madness was something along those lines, but it doesn't change the fact that you're really S.O.L. if something serious happens after-hours.

One of my friends is the wife of a dentist, which means she's his assistant/nurse/receptionist/cleaning crew/accountant, and she's always buried under insurance paperwork. Such a thing seems inevitable when working in some sort of health service, but this "multiple visit" tactic sheds a little more light on it all.

I don't know why, but I got the impression that Dry Air was a concern for everyone (in the opinion of the news weather team), not just specific areas. This tone, which may have been due to the fallacies of translation between languages, is what I found amusing.

Thanks for the comments!