July 7, 2022

Being a doctor in China is a dangerous profession

Violence against doctors is increasing in China. China Daily has reported that in 2010, 17,000 violent incidents in about 70% of the country’s hospitals. This includes murder.

Violence against doctors is increasing in China. China Daily has reported that in 2010, 17,000 violent incidents in about 70% of the country’s hospitals. This includes murder. In late March, a young doctor at the First Affiliated Hospital of Harbin Medical University in northeast China, was knifed to death by an angry patient. 

This seems to be the sensational tip of an endemic problem. An on-line survey of attitudes towards the recent murder yielded some revealing figures. Only 7% of respondents were sad and 61% were happy. This is far from being an accurate index of public opinion, but it reflects the public’s frustration.

Writing in Bloomberg, Adam Minter ventures three reasons. First, China lacks an independent system for dealing with medical malpractice. Some disgruntled patients feel that their only recourse is violence. Second, doctors are paid so badly that many supplement their meagre income with bribes, kickbacks, commissions, and unnecessary expensive procedures. This makes them despised by patients who feel that their illness is being exploited.

As one blogger commented:

Internet users are happy, of course, not for the innocent medical intern’s death, but instead happy as a kind of vengeful catharsis against the professional ethics of damn doctors who receive red envelopes [filled with cash] and kickbacks! Black hearts and low morals are not natural to doctors, rather the current situation is caused by commerce and imperfect regulations!

Bloomberg, Mar 30

Michael Cook
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China
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