Patient violence sparks one-day walkout by hospital staff in Yunnan

Action triggered by family members holding and berating manager for more than an hour

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 28 August, 2014, 1:19pm
UPDATED : Friday, 29 August, 2014, 2:18pm

More than 100 medical staff in China’s Yunnan province went on strike yesterday, protesting patients’ violence against them, state media reported.

The workers at Yulong People’s Hospital held a banner in front of the main building saying “severely punish people disrupting orders at the hospital and bring peace back”, according to the Shanghai Morning Post.

The strike was triggered by an incident on Monday in which the manager of the hospital was held by about 30 relatives of a patient who had undergone spinal surgery there in 2012. A stainless steel implant broke in July, and the family members demanded 300,000 yuan (HK$379,000) as compensation.

The manager was dragged from the fourth floor to a ward on the first floor of the hospital where he was held for more than an hour, as the relatives hurled insults at him, according to the report.

The police were called, and local authorities said they would consider providing compensation to the family.

The strking staff members returned to work today.

Medical staff at the hospital said they were angered by the incident.

“We also think it’s unfair for other patients when we go on strike, but we demand punishment [for the] relatives who caused the trouble. Otherwise, this kind of incident would happen more frequently, and our safety could not be guaranteed,” a doctor told the newspaper.

The hospital was unable to admit any new patients while most staff members were on strike.

The Yunnan incident occurred at time when local health authorities in Beijing have initiated a research project on legal protection of medical workers, Beijing News reported today.

The project, being conducted by the Beijing Municipal Commission of Population and Family Planning and Peking University, aims to set up additional legal protections for medical staff in the capital as violence against them in China has risen in recent years.

In February, a doctor in Heilongjiang province was beaten to death by a patient and another doctor in Hebei was seriously injured when a patient stabbed him in the throat.

According to a report by the Chinese Hospital Association in January, 96 per cent of medical workers received verbal threats in the workplace in 2012, and more than 60 per cent of them were subject to physical violence.

Such violence received national attention in 2012 when a 17-year-old patient killed a 28-year-old medical intern and injured three others with a fruit knife in Heilongjiang province.

The teenager was sentenced to life in prison.