Killing of doctor on house call raises safety fears

Updated: 2013-01-21 07:57

By Wang Qingyun (China Daily)

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The killing of an emergency doctor during a house call in Inner Mongolia on Saturday has again raised concerns about medics' safety.

Baogang Hospital in Baotou, the Inner Mongolia autonomous region, said on its official website that Zhu Yufei, 34, a woman doctor in its neurology department, was killed while on a home visit on Saturday.

According to the hospital, at 1:42 am it received a call from the city's emergency medical center reporting that a woman was experiencing convulsions and needed immediate help. When Zhu, the doctor in charge, and three medics arrived at the scene, a man, suspected to be Li Xinglong, attacked them with a cooking knife, locked the three medics outside, and allegedly killed Zhu in the house.

Huang Qiang, head of the police station in Kunlun district, Baotou, where the killing took place, told Xinhua News Agency that Li's 17-year-old son called emergency services that day, after witnessing his father beat his mother with a rolling pin, breaking her arm.

According to Huang, the son left with his mother before the medics arrived, fearing Li may beat her again.

When the medics arrived, Li let them in, telling them his wife was on the balcony before attacking them. The three medics escaped, but Li grabbed Zhu, locked the door and allegedly killed her. Zhu was dead when the police entered the house.

Baotou police confirmed on their micro blog account on Saturday, that they received a report a homicide had occurred at 1:58 am, and captured the suspect at the scene.

It's not known if Li's son also called police or if the medics knew that Li had earlier hurt his wife. A staff worker at the hospital said when the initial call came in nobody was expecting danger.

The motive for the killing is unknown.

Zhang Lei, an emergency medical worker since 1992, said the case is "extremely rare".

"When receiving a call, we ask the caller the cause of the patient's condition," said Zhang, who works in the Beijing Emergency Medical Center. "Sometimes we also call the police to go to the scene with us."

"We would suggest the police come along if the situation involved violence, such as when a beating occurs. However, sometimes it's hard to decide if we should ask police to cooperate because some callers tend to exaggerate the situation and waste police resources," said Zhang.

Zhang said he worked with the police when a mentally ill patient became violent, or when the medics needed police to rescue a patient locked inside the room.

Zhang said the incident could not have been anticipated.

"I have received training on how to protect myself from patients who are not conscious of their behavior, such as drunk people or people with mental illnesses, but not this," he said.

The Chinese Medical Doctor Association said in a statement on Sunday that it strongly condemns the killing, and it is paying close attention to the case.

(China Daily 01/21/2013 page3)