Medical staff on strike for better protection
Hospital staff are demanding better protection after a doctor and a patient were killed in a fight, the latest incident to highlight problems in a system often overwhelmed with patients.
The deaths came on Saturday when two men, who were drunk, went to the Luanchuan County People's Hospital in central China's Henan Province to seek treatment for foot injuries.
One of them, surnamed Li, started a fight with a Dr Jia. During the scuffle, an elevator door somehow fell open and the two fell down the shaft.
The tragic incident angered doctors and nurses throughout the county, who went on strike the same day to call for better government protection.
Doctor-patient relations in China have been fraught with incidents of this kind in recent years, as frustration, misunderstanding and dissatisfaction have resulted in violence.
According to the National Health and Family Planning Commission, China reported 115,000 medical disputes last year.
Earlier this month, three men were detained for beating a pregnant nurse and causing her to miscarry. Last year, a doctor from northeast China's Heilongjiang Province was beaten to death by a patient.
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.
Guo suggests that an authoritative institution should establish exactly what lies behind these disputes, while specialist courts need to be set up to ensure justice.