Shanghai launches probe into illegal online nursing services
Investigation follows disclosure that nurse administered restricted services in patient’s home
Shanghai authorities have launched an investigation into nursing services that can be booked online after a nurse said she had injected clients with medicine that was not allowed to be given without a doctor’s supervision.
Contracted nurses, who can be booked through a Chinese app, have been providing illegal medical services to people at their homes, the Shanghai Morning Post reported on Monday last week.
The report said a nurse, surnamed Li, said she gave unauthorised injections to a patient at the patient’s home and provided other services outside of her qualifications, including a prenatal gender determination test. According to the company’s website, nurses available through the app are licensed by registered hospitals and retirement homes.
The Shanghai Municipal Commission of Health and Family Planning said last Thursday that nurses were not allowed to work outside their workplaces so those employed by the app are violating the law. The authority said it was investigating all the nurses involved.
In recent years, to cater to a rising medical demand as China’s population ages, the country has been opening its medical industry to the private sector.
More private medical service providers are looking for ways to employ doctors and nurses who were previously permitted to only work for state-run institutes.
The firm recruits doctors and nurses, advertising on its website that a part-time job with the company easily pays more than 10,000 yuan (US$1,450) a month. The company says its services cover 217 cities in 30 provinces, with orders coming in around the clock.
The report said the in-house medical services available through the app range from skin-lightening injections to intravenous services, which are all classified as clinical practices.
The chief executive of the company, Wei Guilei, told the newspaper, “These practices are health management practices rather than clinical practices, which free us of the oversight of various health authorities.”
He said when doctors provide patients with diagnoses, it is a clinical practice. In contrast, when nurses give injections at a patient’s home at the request of the doctor, it is not a clinical practice. He added that some nurses could violate protocols in services they provide to their patients.
Li told the newspaper she was fully aware that services such as blood tests are clinical practices but she felt compelled to administer them it at her clients’ request.
“I know it is ... illegal. But if I don’t do it, the app would block my account,” she said.
Li said one of her patients requested she inject a breast cancer medicine that is not allowed to be administered outside of a hospital.
“I called the app company. The person at the company said it is alright if you do not do the injection. We will call someone else to do it,” she said.
She said she agreed to provide the service because she would not get paid if she turned the request down and would also not get paid her travel expenses.
The report said the app is very popular and requests are often picked up by nurses within five minutes. App users can chose from more than 1,000 nurses to attend them.