A doctor in Shanghai who was suffering with depression jumped to his death from the eighth floor of a local hospital on Monday, leading to investigations on whether the suicide was driven by arguments with his patients—an increasing problem on the mainland that has resulted in several cases of violence.
South China Morning Post reports that Zhang Shilin, a urology surgeon at the Fudan University Shanghai Cancer Center in Xuhui, leapt from the building around 12:30 p.m. on Monday after he’d seen a doctor at another hospital for depression treatment.
Friends of the doctor speculated that he was under stress because of recent conflict with patients, although a spokeswoman from the center claims that this is a “pure rumor”.
In response to a Weibo post written by a peer of the doctor claiming that he was depressed because of strained relationships with his patients’ relatives, several doctors appealed to the public showing sympathy for doctors in China under similar psychological stress.
They are “always expected to perform perfectly” said urology surgeon Lin Hongwei of Beijing Tsinghua University.
The past year has seen a number of violent attacks on medical staff and doctors in the mainland, usually at the hands of patients’ family members who are unsatisfied with treatment.
Just this week we reported that three doctors were viciously slashed by a knife-wielding patient at the People’s Hospital of Shanghai, and earlier this month, a 53-year-old woman beat a 20-year-old nurse at a Nanjing hospital over the “inadequate” treatment of her daughter.
Tensions between patients and medical staff made headlines in Guangdong not long after when a doctor was paraded around by an angry mob of people outside a hospital after a patient he’d treated the previous day died.
Instances like these, on top of a series of other cases, prompted some hospitals in Shanghai to train their staff in self-defense against potentially dangerous patients and family members of patients.
Local hospital administrators said in a Shenzhen Daily report last year that most violent attacks against medical staff happen because patients have excessively high expectations for medical services.
“We have more than 20 serious incidents involving patients or patients’ relatives beating medical staff ever year,” Yang Jiancai, vice director of security at Shenzhen Children’s Hospital, had said to the Shenzhen Special Zone Daily.
The Post reports that, according to the latest figure by the nation’s Health Ministry, some 70,000 disputes between doctors and patients were reported last year. A Chinese Hospital Association student showed that the number of medical staff injures caused by violent incidents at hospitals rose 29 percent last year.
“No matter how well technology develops, people still die of illnesses. The problem now is that patients don’t understand that some diseases may not be cured some of the time,” Shenzhen People’s Hospital emergency director Shan Aijun was quoted as saying in the Shenzhen Special Zone Daily.
“They think hospitals should cure their disease because they have paid.”