Guangdong province has taken the lead in the Chinese mainland in opening an internet hospital for occupational diseases, offering online consultation, diagnosis, treatment and related medical services.
Hu Shijie, president of Guangdong Provincial Hospital for Occupational Disease Prevention and Treatment, said the opening of the internet hospital provides convenience and multiple channels for workers to seek medical services.
The doctors and medical staff from the internet hospital saw a total of 71 people online and answered another 77 online consultations on Tuesday, the first day of the hospital operating, sources with the hospital said.
The online patients and consultants mainly dealt with the determination of pneumoconiosis, deafness, the definition of suspected occupational diseases, occupational contraindications, as well as the prevention and treatment of contact rhinitis, the rehabilitation of pneumoconiosis pre-work occupational examination and other related issues.
"The internet hospital also offers a medicine delivery service to its patients," the hospital said.
Yang Aichu, director of the occupational health monitoring center in the hospital, said the most serious occupational disease in Guangdong is deafness, and pneumoconiosis remains the largest occupational disease in the whole country.
"This is related to the industrial development in Guangdong where machining plays a big part in its manufacturing industrial development, and therefore the harm of noise to workers ranks first among all occupational diseases," he said.
Last year, more than 300,000 people with occupational diseases sought medical treatment and services at the hospital in Guangdong, with 30 percent of them suffering from varying degrees of hearing impairment, said Yang, adding that he had offered medical consultation and services to some hearing impaired patients on Tuesday.
"Occupational diseases can actually be prevented and cured," he said.
In terms of noise prevention and control, Yang urged factories to further reduce noise intensity through process reform, and reasonably arranging the shifts of workers.
Workers' exposure to noise should not exceed eight hours a day, he said.
"And workers should be required to wear earplugs or earmuffs at work, and if they find discomfort, they should immediately see doctors and have a physical examination," Yang said.
New types of occupational diseases, mainly involving chemical poisoning, have also been detected in Guangdong in recent years.
Liu Lili, director of the toxicology laboratory at the hospital, said Guangdong has developed emerging industries and workers have a high probability of exposure to new chemicals, which increases the risk of contracting new types of occupational diseases.
Although some new materials have low toxicity, a non-standard working environment or inadequate protective measures will cause serious damage to human health, Liu said.