Hospital doctor fired for playing online game as baby died

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 14 November, 2009, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 14 November, 2009, 12:00am

A doctor at Nanjing Children's Hospital has been fired and his medical licence revoked after a five-month-old baby died on his shift while he played an online game.

In spite of repeated pleas from the baby's parents, night-shift doctor Mao Xiaojun failed to pay due attention to the baby's deteriorating condition and did not provide the necessary treatment, said a statement yesterday from the Jiangsu provincial health department, which oversees the hospital.

'In the wake of the incident, [he] tried to cover the fact that he was playing an online version of [the board game] go while he was on duty,' the statement said.

The baby had been taken to the hospital because of an eye infection on the afternoon of November 3 and died the following morning from complications.

The doctor and several other medical staff at the hospital's in- patient section ignored pleas for help from the baby's family, with the mother even kneeling at the doctor's door begging for help.

The death was the third major medical incident to cause a public outcry in recent weeks.

Last week, it was revealed that a Peking University professor of medicine had died after she was treated by three unlicensed medical postgraduates at a hospital affiliated with the university in January 2006.

And on Tuesday, a Guangzhou-based eye-care centre admitted that three patients became infected from a contaminated laser machine that had not been properly sterilised.

Beijing Institute of Technology professor Hu Xingdou, who specialises in issues regarding corruption, said the lack of basic professionalism and substandard medical services at hospitals was a reflection of a broader social problem, namely the loss of compassion.

'To tackle this illness, first, we need to nurture a sense of equality, justice and compassion in the wider community,' Hu said.

'Second, the public sectors, including public hospitals, must be allowed to go private to push them to raise the level of services and professionalism via competition.'

The news of the death of the five-month-old baby only became public after the family posted reports of their plight on the internet.

They said they had been beaten up by hospital security guards when they tried to seek justice.

Nanjing authorities initially said the doctor was not to blame but an independent investigation later found he had been negligent.

Twelve doctors, nurses and officials, including the hospital's director, were given administrative demerit or a warning.