Under Chinese Socialized Medicine, Long Waits, Bribes, and Violent Attacks on Physicians Are Common

(p. A1) BEIJING — Well before dawn, nearly a hundred people stood in line outside one of the capital’s top hospitals.

They were hoping to get an appointment with a specialist, a chance for access to the best health care in the country. Scalpers hawked medical visits for a fee, ignoring repeated crackdowns by the government.

. . .

The long lines, a standard feature of hospital visits in China, are a symptom of a health care system in crisis.

. . .

(p. A8) Instead of going to a doctor’s office or a community clinic, people rush to the hospitals to see specialists, even for fevers and headaches. This winter, flu-stricken patients camped out overnight with blankets in the corridors of several Beijing hospitals, according to state media.

Hospitals are understaffed and overwhelmed. Specialists are overworked, seeing as many as 200 patients a day.

And people are frustrated, with some resorting to violence. In China, attacks on doctors are so common that they have a name: “yi nao,” or “medical disturbance.”

. . .

In March [2018], a doctor was killed by his patient’s husband. In November 2016, a man attacked a doctor after an argument over his daughter’s treatment. The month before, a father stabbed a pediatrician 15 times after his daughter died shortly after her birth. The doctor did not survive.

Dr. Zhao Lizhong, an emergency room doctor in Beijing, was sitting at a computer and writing a patient’s diagnosis when Lu Fu’ke plunged a knife into his neck in April 2012. Around him, patients screamed.

Hours earlier, Mr. Lu had stabbed Dr. Xing Zhimin, who had treated him for rhinitis, in the Peking University People’s Hospital and fled. Police officers arrested him in his hometown, Zhuozhou in the northern province of Hebei, later that month. Mr. Lu was sentenced to 13 years in jail.

“We know that this kind of thing can happen at any time,” Dr. Zhao said.

The root of the violence is all the same: a mistrust of the medical system.

. . .

In a survey of more than 570 residents in Beijing, Shanghai and Guangzhou conducted in 2013 by Cheris Chan, a sociology professor at the University of Hong Kong, more than half said they and members of their family gave “red envelopes” as cash gifts to doctors for surgery during 2000-12.

For the full story, see:

Sui-Lee Wee. “Bribery, Violence and Endless Lines: China’s Health Care Crisis.” The New York Times (Monday, Oct. 1, 2018): A1 & A8.

(Note: ellipses, and bracketed year, added.)

(Note: the online version of the story has the date Sept. 30, 2018, and has the title “China’s Health Care Crisis: Lines Before Dawn, Violence and ‘No Trust’.” The online version says that the New York Edition print version had the title “Lines, Bribes and Violence: A Health Care Crisis.” My National Edition print version had the title “Bribery, Violence and Endless Lines: China’s Health Care Crisis.”)

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *