Thu, May 03, 2012
China > Mainland

What to blame for patient-doctor clashes?

2012-05-03 06:58:30 GMT2012-05-03 14:58:30(Beijing Time)

By Wang Qi, Sina English

Violent crimes in Chinese hospitals and against doctors have plagued the medical authorities and also fueled widespread public concern. In response, the Ministry of Health and the Ministry of Public Security issued a joint statement days ago declaring a crackdown on violent crimes assaulting medical staff and harassing clinics and hospitals. 

This marked the third time for similar notifications, which, to some extent, may help to contain patient-doctor clashes. Nevertheless, measures of the kind cannot uproot the crisis, nor ease tensions between the two groups. Instead, more efforts should be made in improving the medical and law systems.

First, medical legislation must come into being. Instead of joint notifications by government agencies, there is an urgent need for laws to be enacted to label, say, "disrupting medical service", as a crime. 

The statement points that "medical institutions are where patients are attended to and where life is not threatened.” That means medical service and hospitals are worth the same amount of , if not more, protection from the law as any other public service. Hence, why not outlaw "disrupting medical service" much the way as "disrupting public service" is convicted?

Second, the government should invest more in health sector. A report released by the World Health Organization in 2004 estimates China, with more than 20 percent of the world population, accounted for only 2.1 percent of the world's total in its public health spending. Insufficient investment reduced medical sector to a profitable business, which in turn set off a decline of professional ethics among the medical staff, further deteriorating relationship between patients and hospitals.

Third, medical resources should be allocated in a fair and reasonable way. Uneven distribution of medical resources can also be blamed for the phenomenon that treatment involving medical equipment and medicines tend to be charged at skyrocketing prices while medical skills are belittled.

Fourth, a national compensation system or imperative insurance system for medical risks should be established. Most medical conflicts are not due to malpractice but irresistible accidents, dual effects, complications, etc.

Current medical compensation system, however, only ensures compensation on the occasion of malpractice and man-made accidents, which is actually rare. When accidents occur, it would be inhumane to offer no compensation, but unfair, on the other hand, if accidents happen to be  malpractice cases.

In a nutshell, the existing medical system in itself calls for a cure to stand healthy and to fend off vices.


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