China’s hospitals up security in the face of rising patient-to-doctor violence
The China Youth Daily is a commercial daily run by the Communist Youth League. On the right hand side of today’s front page is a tiny headline: “how to restore the harmonious doctor-patient relationship,” along with a thumbnail picture of a medical worker learning self-defense from a policeman at the Women and Children’s Hospital, Ningbo City. The article notes there have been several cases of patients killing doctors in the past few years. In response, the Ministry of Health has issued an emergency notice that requires health administrative departments at all levels to increase public security in hospitals and other medical institutions. Hospitals in particular must have a guard’s room equipped with helmets, shields, anti-stab vests and a long stick.
A number of cases have recently emerged where patients violently attack medical personnel at hospitals across China, because they are unsatisfied with the treatment received. Today, China Daily reported that a woman tried to stab an emergency-room nurse at a hospital in Nanjing, because she believed herself to be suffering from negative consequences of a caesarean operation she’d undergone at the hospital 16 years earlier. Other recent examples of patient-to-doctor violence include an April 13 incident, where a patient named Lu Fuke stabbed two Beijing doctors in the neck; and a case in Harbin, where a seventeen year-old patient named Li Mengnan stabbed one hospital intern to death and injured three other staff members, because he felt he had not received immediate care.
The China Youth Daily offered several reasons for the deterioration of the doctor-patient relationship in China. Most of these related to the long waits and high costs of most medical visits. Corruption also plays a role: doctors will commonly over-prescribe drugs, or unnecessarily prescribe the most expensive drugs, in order to supplement their own incomes through kickbacks. According to several of the experts interviewed in the article, one of the largest problems plaguing the system is that doctors’ legitimate incomes are not high enough; and their grey incomes are much higher.
The mandate for increased security is just the latest in a slew of reforms intended ease tension at hospitals, including stricter punishments for hospital ticket-scalpers that came out last week.
Links and Sources
China Daily: today’s article on hospital stabbing
Danwei: article on increased punishments for hospital ticket-scalpers