Yuan Yaping, a 53-year-old civil servant who allegedly attacked a nurse at a Jiangsu hospital on February 25 because she was unhappy with the treatment her daughter had received, was detained on Wednesday, according to local police.
Chen Xingyu, the 20-year-old victim who worked at the Nanjing Stomatological Hospital, was paralysed by the attack and remains in hospital receiving treatment, according to authorities in Nanjing.
The attack, which made headlines in online forums and in newspapers, enraged China’s medical community and drew an outpouring of sympathy for the victim throughout the country.
The fact that police took more than a week to detain Yuan has especially angered observers online. Many blamed police for yielding to the political influence of Yuan's family and speculated they had hidden major evidence from the public.
Nanjing police later explained they were only able to detain Yuan after the seriousness of Chen’s injuries had been determined by medical experts.
In a video clip released by Nanjing Stomatological Hospital, which records the alleged attack in its entirety, Yuan is seen hitting Chen on the back with an umbrella.
The video later shows Yuan shoving and pushing Chen during a physical confrontation. Dong Anqing, Yuan’s husband, is seen in the video attacking hospital staff who came to Chen’s rescue.
Yuan is deputy director of the government-run Jiangsu Science and Technology Museum in Nanjing and Dong is a senior publicity official at the Jiangsu Provincial Procuratorate office. Both have been suspended by their employers following the alleged attack, media reports said.
On Weibo, netizens raised questions over whether the video clip had been edited to leave out crucial footage that might have provided evidence of more physical abuse against Chen.
Nanjing residents said they were also angry over how the government had censored the local media after the attack. In a controversial televison interview apparently approved by officials, a local police inspector, Hu Shining, said the injuries Chen received “weren’t really serious”.
This interview drew fierce criticism from microbloggers, especially after the hospital authorities in Nanjing had confirmed on Wednesday that Chen had been paralysed due to serious injuries she received to her vertebrae.
“This police inspector should be fired for speaking such outright lies,” one microblogger wrote.
“I strongly urge that police officers and media workers who have been telling lies be investigated,” a Doctor Xu, who said he works at a hospital in Nantong in Jiangsu, wrote on Weibo.
China has seen an outburst of violence against medical staff in recent years and the problem of patient-doctor conflicts has drawn the attention of the central government. The issue has also triggered an ongoing debate online.