By Benjamin Cost
In an alarming breach of medical ethics, medical staff have been notifying funeral companies of their dying patients in exchange for cash. Shanghai Daily reports:
The son, surnamed Li, was out when he was told his 49-year-old mother died early last Tuesday after first-aid doctors failed to revive her. He rushed back to the apartment but was shocked to find that a man from a funeral company was already waiting there to see him.
The man offered Li a complete funeral service for 10,000 yuan (US$1,586). The address on the card turned out to be a flower shop.
“The man with the unlicensed funeral company came to our home to cheat my money minutes after my mother stopped breathing,” Li told the Youth Daily newspaper. “How did they find my address and know about my mother’s death?”
Li alerted the police and was stunned when police told him the man said he got the address and details about his mother’s death from a worker at the medical center.
Guan Min, an official at the center told Shanghai Daily that the doctor and ambulance driver were under investigation.
It was not an isolated case. The Shanghai Daily investigation found that many funeral companies in the city, facing fierce competition, are hiring doctors, nurses and ambulance drivers to be their insiders.
This phenomenon illustrates that in the relentless hunt for cash during the Sino-boom time, few things remain sacred. We can now add the dead to the list of things violated by Chinese institutions, right up there with health and safety.