A retired dentist in Guangdong province died on Saturday after being stabbed by a former patient a few days before in an incident that has once again raised serious questions about the Chinese health care system.
Chen Zhongwei, a 60-year-old former director of the stomatology department at the Guangdong Provincial People’s Hospital, died from his injuries at 12:39 p.m., following 43 hours of emergency treatment, the hospital announced on Saturday.
According to iFeng News, Chen had been stabbed over 30 times, from head to foot, at around 5:20 p.m. on Thursday afternoon at his own apartment.
After the attack, the 47-year-old suspect surnamed Liu committed suicide by jumping off the 18th-floor balcony of Chen’s apartment. Chen’s wife also suffered injuries in the incident. Both Chen and his wife were quickly rushed to the hospital.
According to the hospital’s announcement, Liu had received medical treatment from Chen back in 1991, 25 years ago. He had also previously visited Chen, demanding compensation, leading Chen to seek help from the police.
A colleague of Chen’s told reporters that Chen had taken Liu’s pictures and showed it to paramedics in his department, warning them to be aware and that Liu might have some kind of mental problem. “He [Liu] said that his ceramic teeth, which Chen had helped install, were discolored and he wanted compensation. If his demand wasn’t met, he would die together with Chen,” the colleague recalls.
Liu had earlier been sent to a local mental institution, but it is not clear in what circumstances he was released.
Unfortunately, this kind of killing is nothing new for doctors in China, who have to deal with semi-regular attacks from angry former patients and family members. Still, the tragic senselessness of Chen’s murder has led to a strong public outcry, from medical professionals, citizens and netizens.
On Saturday evening, hundreds of Chen’s colleagues attended his memorial ceremony held in the hospital.
“Each of us feels bitter over the incident. We are heartbroken, but we’re doctors, and we will continue to abide by our professional code of ‘healing the sick and rescuing the dying,'” said one attendee at the memorial.
Hundreds of Guangzhou citizens also gathered together at Guangzhou’s Hero Square to pay tribute to the murdered dentist.
At the same time, soul-searching was continuing online, as netizens debated over what needs to happen to stop these kinds of acts of violence.
“Doctors deceive patients. Patients attack doctors. This will never end until the government creates better medical regulations,” wrote one netizen.
“Honestly, as a doctor, I no longer feel safe. I am thinking about getting a safer job, like working in a coal mine,” another netizen wrote.
In March, a crazed man tried to splash a nurse with gasoline and set her ablaze after the hospital lost his mother. This incident came only a few days after a family of a deceased child forced doctors at a hospital in Shenzhen to kneel and pay their respects by burning paper money offerings on the hospital floor.
Following a string of similar incidents in recent years, along with their medical training, many doctors across China are now being trained in self-defense to protect themselves from their knife-wielding former patients.
This latest incident continues to harm the failing trust between Chinese medical workers and their patients. Last week, the death of Wei Zexi, a cancer patient who received a type of experimental and ineffective treatment at a Beijing military hospital, which he had found by searching on Baidu, went viral, shocking netizens across the country. But Chen’s death has reminded people once again that for China’s doctors the success of a procedure can also be a matter of life and death.
By Lucy Liu
[Images via Tencent / Sohu / NetEase]