Surgeons taking selfies backfire

Updated: 2014-12-22 14:28

By Zhang Xiang(

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After a set of surgeons' selfies taken next to a patient undergoing surgery in a Xi'an hospital went viral online and stirred heated debate, the health bureau of the city announced on Sunday that three officials of the hospital have been removed from their posts.

The three are deputy president of the hospital, the dean and the nurse head of its anesthesiology department. The executive president and all the medical workers in the photos have been given a demerit in their record, an administrative punishment in China.

According to the bureau, the photos were taken on Aug 15 in an operating room that was going to be disbanded and the medical workers of Xi'an Fengcheng Hospital, a private hospital, took the photos to keep the memory of the room alive.

The selfies were posted on Sina Weibo, the Chinese equivalent of Twitter, on Saturday by a user who claimed to be a friend of one of the doctors. The photos show the doctors smiling and posing in front of an unconscious patient lying on the operating table.

"What are you medical workers doing during the operation? No wonder there are so many medical disputes with the patients," the user said in his post with the photos.

Though he deleted the post later, the photos were already circulating on social media and soon became one of the hot topics during the weekend.

As of 2 pm on Monday, the photos had been viewed 9.9 million times and had generated more than 12,000 comments.

Some Weibo users were furious at the doctors' behaviors, blaming them for not being professional.

"What's wrong is wrong. Whether the photos were taken before or after the surgery, the patient hadn't woken up and the doctors were already celebrating, ignoring the patient's privacy," commented user "Youma".

Another user "Lin'an chuyu" said: "Where are the professional ethics of these medical workers?"

At the same time, some users, including many insiders, expressed their understanding.

"Baiyishanmao", a user identified as a surgeon by Sina, said after successfully finishing a challenging operation, the doctors would be happier than the patient and it was fine to take photos by the side of the operating table.

His comment got more than 10,000 likes during the weekend and many users expressed the same thoughts and supported the doctors.

Although he did point out that it was inappropriate that some medical workers were not wearing their gauze masks and that the patient was visible in the photos.

"It is understandable if they were celebrating the success of the operation. It's just like we take photos of the happy moments," said Weibo user "Lu-Y".

"Sekajiang" said: "If you have never performed an operation, you will never feel the nervousness and delight of the doctors."

Still, some think it would be more acceptable if they waited until the patient was removed from the operating room.

After Xi'an health bureau announced the punishment, new wave of comments began appearing on the Internet, with some supporting the decision and the rest considering it too harsh.

When an operation is taking place, cell phone signals are restricted and photos taken inside the room can only be used for internal communication with the patient's face hidden, Xi'an Evening News quoted Ma Kangxiao, a section chief of the Ninth Hospital of Xi'an, as saying.

Doctor-patient disputes have long been a social issue in China, with series of incidents emerging in recent years. Some disputes have even led to violent attacks on doctors.