Doctors protest at brutal attack

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 20 September, 2011, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 20 September, 2011, 12:00am


Doctors and nurses at the prestigious Beijing Tongren Hospital stopped working for an hour during the clinic's busy morning hours yesterday in a protest against last week's brutal attack on a top surgeon by a disgruntled patient.

The strike came a day after the Ministry of Health issued a rare statement condemning violent crimes against doctors. At least nine similar attacks, some deadly, across the country by patients and their families this year have prompted doctors to demand respect and call for severe punishments for attackers.

Dr Xu Wen, 43, chief surgeon in the hospital's ear, nose and throat (ENT) department, remained in intensive care after being slashed 17 times on Thursday, allegedly by former patient Wang Baoluo, 54, who authorities said fled the scene but was tracked down by police that day. Wang, a calligrapher, suffers from throat cancer and has been embroiled in a medical lawsuit with the hospital for three years.

Xu sustained severe wounds to her arms, forehead, neck, back and left leg. She also suffered a broken skull and leg. She underwent a nine-hour operation and was listed in stable condition, but she may never be able to operate again.

Witnesses said that about 30 to 40 doctors and nurses in the ENT department gathered, with a banner demanding that the attacker be brought to justice and another saying 'Give me back my dignity,' while chanting slogans during the strike, which started at 9am.

Donations and good wishes were collected during the strike.

Several witnesses said that medical staff from other departments joined the strike, which eventually moved to the hospital entrance.

However, hospital authorities and the Beijing Municipal Health Bureau denied it was a strike, saying it was just a donation-collection event.

Medical services resumed shortly after 10am and doctors extended their working hours.

Doctors and patients said Xu was kind, 'very hard-working' and 'very dedicated to the profession'.

There has been a bloody list of doctors attacked only this year. This month, a doctor in Beiijng's Renmin Hospital, also a top-tier hospital, suffered broken bones and a dislocated neck after being beaten by a patient's family. Last month, one doctor in Dongguan's Changan Hospital was killed and another seriously injured when a patient, unsatisfied with his treatment, stabbed them.

Wang blamed Xu in his blog for failing in a first operation in 2006, which resulted in delay of his treatment and eventual removal of part of his throat. But Tongren Hospital released a statement about his treatment record, saying the first surgical plan was made according to Wang's requirements and that he was well aware of the risks. The hospital said Xu's actions were standard and that Wang failed to respect Xu's prescriptions and delayed radiotherapy treatment for four months, even though he was told the cancer could spread.

Dr Wang Shan, president of Renmin Hospital, said the tragedy highlighted the urgent need to establish a third-party arbitrary system to solve such disputes.

Recent attacks

September 8

Mu Xinlin, a doctor at Beijing People's Hospital, was seriously beaten up by a patient's family. Mu suffered a partial dislocation of the vertebra in his neck.

August 16

A 29-year-old male patient stabbed Dr Liu Zhonglin to death with a kitchen knife at Changan Hospital in Dongguan, Guangdong, and another doctor was seriously wounded. The patient was dissatisfied with his treatment for muscle contractions in his face.

August 3

A doctor from the Shanghai Medical Emergency Centre was beaten up by two passers-by at a local market while trying to save an elderly person who had fainted and fallen. The doctor suffered multiple wounds and lost consciousness.

May 30

Nearly 100 people, summoned by a father who got in a fight with staff at the People's Hospital after his child died, blocked access to the hospital in Shangrao, Jiangxi province.

April 2

Two doctors were beaten up by a patient with abdominal pain in the emergency room at the People's Hospital in Guangdong. One doctor's eye was injured and the other was kicked on the ground.

March 28

Attending physician Dong Bing was beaten up by a drunk male patient at an emergency room in Jingan District Centre Hospital in Shanghai. Dong needed five stitches on his forehead and suffered a broken bone on the right side of his face.

January 31

Nearly 20 relatives of a patient who died in Xinhua Hospital in Shanghai rushed into the cardiothoracic department and stabbed 10 members of the medical staff, six of whom were seriously injured.

January 10

A surgeon who was operating on a heart disease patient was beaten up by the patient's relatives, who rushed into the operation room at a municipal hospital of Qingdao, Shandong province.