Doctors and nurses in a Henan province county went on strike to demand better protection this past weekend after a doctor and a patient were killed in a fight, the latest incident to shed light on rising tensions between medical staff and patients in China.
The deaths occurred on Saturday morning when two drunk men went to seek treatment for foot injuries at the People’s Hospital in Luanchuan county, Henan province, according to Xinhua. One of the patients, surnamed Li, began fighting with the on-duty doctor, surnamed Jia, when an elevator door opened and the two fell down the shaft.
Doctors and nurses across the county went on strike the same day, calling for better protection from the government.
The incident marks the latest in a string of often violent doctor-patient conflicts throughout China. The National Healthy and Family Planning Commission reported 115,000 of such medical disputes last year alone, Xinhua reports.
A guideline in April 2014 stipulated six types of criminal disruption of medical work that will be severely punished, including attacking doctors, damaging public property and insulting medical workers.
The problem is particularly difficult because it is the result of a range of factors including poor communication, improper behavior by medical staff and an incomplete legal mechanism for dealing the matter.
One of the underlying reasons is uneven distribution of medical resources, according to Guo Yufen, deputy director with the health bureau in northwest China’s Gansu Province.
Patients flood into big hospitals in search of quality medical equipment and good doctors, which puts considerable strain on the system and inevitably mars doctor-patient communication, he said.
A doctor in Henan said that doctors and patients are mutually suspicious of one another these days following reports of medical disputes, causing “emotional resentment.”
“I have to be very careful when I treat my patients, because I do not want to be accused of making profits by prescribing unnecessarily,” said the doctor on condition of anonymity.
We’ve reported on a number of these cases, including incidents last year in which three doctors were attacked at a Shanghai hospital, a nurse was beaten in Nanjing and a doctor was shamed then paraded around by an angry mob outside of a Guangdong hospital.
Most Chinese hospitals have taken steps to bolster security and better protect staff. Last year, hospitals in Shanghai began training doctors and nurses in self-defense as a result of increased patient-on-doctor attacks reported in the city. In June, Beijing hospitals were equipped with riot gear and digital recorders were installed in hospital security departments.
[Image via Wiki Commons]