MEDICINE

No tolerance for hospital attacks, health chief says

Li Bin warns those who commit violence against doctors and nurses will be severely punished

PUBLISHED : Friday, 07 March, 2014, 3:39am
UPDATED : Friday, 07 March, 2014, 3:39am

People who cause violence in hospitals will be seriously punished, the mainland's health chief said, a day after a doctor in Guangdong was publicly humiliated over a patient's death.

Li Bin, the minister of the National Health and Family Planning Commission, said hospitals were places for saving lives and trouble-makers would be harshly dealt with.

"Violence against doctors is a serious crime and [perpetrators] will be severely punished according to the law," Li said.

Watch: Doctor confronted by mob at a hospital in Guangdong, China

On Wednesday, a doctor at Guangdong's Chaozhou Central Hospital was paraded through the hospital for half an hour by more than 100 friends and family members of a patient who died on Wednesday after being admitted for excessive drinking.

Relatives blamed the doctor for failing to properly treat the man, the government of Chaozhou said.

The doctor was crying as the relatives shouted: "This is the doctor who killed a patient," according to weibo messages posted by other doctors who said they witnessed the event.

Doctors and nurses, especially in the mainland's public hospitals, have become targets for patients frustrated with the health care system.

Queues to see doctors are long and consultations are kept short, which further adds to patients' resentment.

Hospitals provided 7.3 billion out-patient consultations last year, a 6 per cent rise over the previous year. They saw 191 million patient check-outs, a 7.3 per cent increase over the previous year. About 70,000 complaints were lodged.

Last week, a nurse at a Nanjing hospital was paralysed after being beaten by the mother of a patient. Due to space constraints, the nurse had placed a male patient in critical condition in the same ward as the woman's daughter.

A doctor in Heilongjiang province was beaten to death with an iron bar last month, allegedly by a patient who was unhappy with treatment he received.

Li said medical staff would strengthen their professional ethics, but people had to accept that doctors' abilities were not infinite. "The public must understand … medical science is limited and be reasonable about the limitations of science and technology," Li said. "Doctors are not gods and can not cure patients every time."

Li said medical liability insurance should be promoted to solve disputes. Independent reconciliation committees handled 53,000 medical disputes and 88 per cent of the cases were settled.