The family of a 35-year-old woman who died giving birth last month is accusing a Jiangxi hospital of malpractice, and is considering launching a third-party investigation into the matter, Chinese media reported.
But what infuriated many Chinese bloggers more than the dispute over patient Li Xiaoyang’s death was what many called a “cold-blooded” comment from the doctor who operated on Li, Guangren hospital president Zhang Ning.
In an interview with Southern Metropolis Daily this week in Wuren county, Zhang allegedly said, “A hospital is the place where people die.”
Li’s mother told the press that doctors then told Li she needed to have a caesarian section as soon as possible. Li signed a waiver agreeing to the surgery.
“They told us that it was decided a caesarean operation would be performed in the afternoon,” Li said.
The surgery was completed around 2pm, but 15 minutes after Li’s son was delivered, she started bleeding. She was pronounced dead at 2.45pm after repeated attempts to save her, according to the hospital.
Ironically, Li’s in-patient card, a piece of paper filled by her doctors that was released after her death, showed that she had been “cured”, Jiangxi local media reported.
The controversial comment made by Zhang made headlines and stirred up heated discussions on Sina Weibo on Friday, where sympathetic micobloggers demanded a thorough investigation of Li’s death.
“I had always believed hospital is a place where people’s lives were saved,” a microblogger wrote in retort to Zhang’s remark.
“Doctors these days have forgotten their call of their duty,” another one wrote.
Eric Chong, deputy secretary general at Beijing-based China Hospital Association, said when medical disputes happen in the mainland, victims can request an investigation by a third-party medical committee, go to court or use a court-appointed mediator to settle the case.
But since an investigation by a professional committee usually takes months and costs several thousand yuan in fees, and a lawsuit can be equally costly, many have opted for mediation.
It is when all these options fail that patients resort to extreme and often violent measures, according to Chong.
China has seen a surge in medical disputes in recent years. Since patients on the mainland are required to make a co-payment up to 70 per cent of the total medical bill, patients who have paid more are usually more likely to be dissatisfied with the result of the treatment, Chong explained.
Chinese hospitals are frequently overwhelmed with patients, and doctors often complain that they are badly paid. Doctors are constantly accused of prescribing unnecessary drugs and treatment to patients to earn more.
Numbers of violent, often deadly, attacks against doctors by disgruntled patients have increased in medical facilities all over the country.
Correction: The family was earlier reported to be suing the hospital. They are pushing for an investigation.