Doctor-patient relations

Updated: 2012-05-07 08:06

(China Daily)

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There is no excuse for anyone physically abusing doctors or disturbing the order of a hospital by kicking up a fuss. Even without the recent notice jointly issued by the ministries of health and public security, those responsible for such acts must be brought to justice.

The notice highlighted that there is urgent need to protect medical workers from being physically attacked, as an increasing number of medical workers are physically injured or even killed by patients.

However, although there is nothing wrong with the notice and the following requirement by the Ministry of Health that public security offices be established in major hospitals, these are simply expedient measures that do not get to the root cause of the worsening relations between medical workers and patients.

So while bringing those who have physically injured and killed doctors to justice, it is necessary to find out why they ended up resorting to violence.

It is not enough for the ministry to only emphasize in the notice that medical workers must improve their service and must whole-heartedly provide a service for patients.

That so many disputes have taken place and developed into physical conflicts sends the message that there must be something inherently wrong with the current system.

A thorough investigation of a dozen of the disputes that have developed into conflicts between medical workers and patients in the past year, should help the ministry identify the major deficiencies in the system that need to be addressed.

With the exception of those who have mental health problems perhaps, the initial intention of anyone visiting a doctor is not to start a fight, but to get help. If institutional guarantees are in place to protect the rights of patients, it will not be in their interests to get into conflict with a particular doctor or hospital.

There need to be enough channels for patients to lodge complaints when they are not satisfied with the service they receive. There should also be a mechanism that makes it possible for medical accidents to be investigated and disputes between doctors and patients to be arbitrated through independent mediation.

These are the concerns that the Ministry of Health must take into consideration when it makes an overall plan to improve relations between medical workers and patients.