CHENGDU: Medics at a hospital in Neijiang, Sichuan province, have come under fire after declaring the victim of a traffic accident dead and sending the man's body to a funeral home when his heart was still beating.
However, Zhang Houming, a construction worker, died about an hour after relatives discovered the error at the funeral home last Friday. He was 46.
Zhang was pronounced dead the first time after his motorcycle collided with a bus as he returned home with his 23-year-old son Zhang Haibo, at about 2:30 pm that day. The son, who worked with his father at the same construction site in Lingjia town, was knocked unconscious in the collision.
An ambulance arrived at the scene about two hours later, and its driver blamed traffic for the delay.
Zhang's colleague surnamed You said it took him less than an hour to get to the work site from his house, which is located in the city center, and using his electric bike.
"I can't believe an ambulance drives slower than my bike," he said.
A doctor, after examining Zhang Houming, wrote in her cardiogram report that the older victim had died. "He stopped breathing and his heart was not beating," the report said.
The medics put Zhang in a body bag inside an iced coffin, while his son was taken to a traditional Chinese medicine hospital in the ambulance.
When the ambulance arrived at the hospital at 5:50 pm, waiting relatives questioned the medics about senior Zhang and were told he had died. Medics said the body was being taken to a funeral home in a minivan.
Relatives rushed to a local funeral home, where the minivan arrived about 20 minutes later.
When a worker in the funeral home opened the body bag and asked the brother of Zhang Houbin to identify the body, Zhang found his brother's face flushed and then tried to feel his pulse.
He then put his ear to his brother's chest and heard the heart beating.
The family phoned 120, the emergency hotline, and an ambulance from the No. 6 Hospital arrived at the funeral home at about 7:15 pm.
Doctors at the hospital recorded Zhang's pulse as 74 beats per minute and breathing as 18 times per minute. They attempted to save Zhang, but he died at 8:15 pm.
Luo Renfu, deputy chief of the city's health bureau, admitted to negligence on the part of the on-duty medical staff at the traditional Chinese medicine hospital, but at the same time, defended the doctor.
"The victim may have suffered from shock and his heartbeat may have revived after the minivan transporting him hit a bump," Luo said.
The statement had Internet users bombard Luo yesterday, even as the local government was negotiating with Zhang's family over adequate compensation.
The family is asking for about 1.5 million yuan ($220,600) in damages, but the government said it was not willing to pay more than 200,000 yuan.
According to law, 150,000 yuan is the maximum amount of compensation for the death of a rural resident, said Zhang Tao, deputy secretary general of the local government.