Couple suspended after attack on nurse

Updated: 2014-02-27 23:59

By CANG WEI and SONG WENWEI in Nanjing (China Daily)

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A man and wife who started a fight at a hospital on Tuesday, severely wounding a nurse and injuring other workers, have been suspended from their jobs in Nanjing, Jiangsu province.

The fight highlights rising tensions between medical workers and their patients across China.

The nurse, Chen Xingyu, who is in her 20s, was diagnosed with spinal cord injuries and fluid in her heart cavity after being sent to Nanjing Drum Tower Hospital for treatment.

On Monday evening, Chen assigned a male patient who had just received surgery under general anesthesia to a bed in the same ward at Nanjing Stomatological Hospital where Dong Fangze, the couple's daughter, was receiving treatment.

It was the only available bed at the time.

Dong contacted her parents to complain that the patient and his accompanying relatives were all male, which troubled her, according to a statement by the Xuanwu district public security bureau at a news conference on Thursday.

Failing in a telephone call to get their daughter moved, they went to the hospital early on Tuesday morning.

Yuan Yaping, Dong's mother, beat Chen with an umbrella and dragged her out of the nurse's station, authorities said. Dong Anqing, the father, scuffled with other medical workers who tried to stop the fight.

Another doctor, surnamed Zhu, from the emergency department was also slightly injured in the incident.

Dong, the father, is the director of Jiangsu Provincial People's Procuratorate's publicity department. His wife, Yuan, works as deputy curator of Jiangsu Science and Technology Museum.

A colleague of the injured nurse, a doctor surnamed Wang, said that Yuan beat Chen so hard that the umbrella broke in the middle.

"It seriously stressed the medical workers," Wang said. "Now besides busy daily work, I have a safety problem to worry about."

Both the procuratorate and the Jiangsu Broadcasting Corp, to which the technology museum is subordinate, responded through official Weibo channels that their discipline inspection departments are investigating the incident, and that anyone attacking medical workers will be punished according to the law.

A police officer from the Xuanwu public security bureau who requested anonymity contradicted the hospital's Weibo description of the incident, saying the nurse was not beaten until she no longer moved.

Chen is recovering and not paralyzed as online rumors said, the officer said.

Her attackers will be held accountable after a full diagnosis of her injuries comes out, the security bureau said.

The attack, which adds to a long list of attacks on medical workers, has outraged many medical workers across the country.

Yu Ying, a cybercelebrity and former emergency doctor from Peking Union Medical College Hospital, said on her Weibo that Chen should have her injuries assessed and that she should not make any compromise with the couple.

"Deputies to the top legislature and advisory body should enact better legal protections for medical workers to prevent such incidents," Yu said.

Attacks on medical workers by patients are not new. A recent case occurred in December. Police in Taizhou, Zhejiang province, started patrolling hospitals to ensure the medical workers' safety following the death of a physician who was stabbed by a dissatisfied patient.

According to a survey by the Chinese Hospital Association, which covers 316 hospitals nationwide, the average number of assaults on doctors per hospital increased from 20.6 in 2008 to 27.3 in 2012.

A survey by China Youth Daily that polled more than 250,000 participants in November found that 66.8 percent said they do not trust the diagnosis and treatment in hospitals.

"Some media show bias against medical workers when they report the news," said Deng Liqun, director of legal affairs for the Chinese Medical Doctors' Association.

"Some reports are misleading — for example, patients won't be treated well if they don't give a red envelope with money, or won't be protected in the case of medical malpractice. That has greatly influenced the relationship between hospitals and patients.

"Also, some hospitals choose to remain silent or to compromise with misbehaving patients, which has made the situation even worse," Deng said.

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