Doctor's death prompts calls for protection of medical staff

Updated: 2016-05-09 08:13

By Xu Jingxi(China Daily)

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Doctor's death prompts calls for protection of medical staff

Guangzhou citizens take part in a candlelight vigil on Saturday for Chen Zhongwei, a doctor who died on Saturday of a multiple stabbing by one of his former patients.[Photo by Chen Jimin/China Daily]

The need to ensure the safety of medical staff has again come to the fore as a retired doctor repeatedly stabbed at his home by a former patient in Guangzhou, Guangdong province, died on Saturday after remaining in intensive care for 43 hours.

Chen Zhongwei, 60, the recently retired director of the executive department of stomatology (oral health) of Guangdong General Hospital, was attacked at home on Thursday by a patient he had treated 25 years ago.

The 47-year-old suspect surnamed Liu followed Chen home, attacked him and then committed suicide by jumping off a balcony at Chen's home, according to the police.

Chen's colleagues told Beijing Times that the assailant stabbed the doctor more than 30 times.

In April, the attacker had stopped Chen at the entrance to the residential compound for the hospital's staff, demanding compensation for tooth discoloration after surgery Chen had conducted 25 years ago, according to a statement by the hospital.

The provincial commission of health and family planning issued an urgent notice on Friday to strengthen security at hospitals and surrounding areas, especially at living quarters.

The commission is requiring hospitals to immediately go through their lists of medical disputes and make a timely report to local health authorities and police of those in which complainants may have demonstrated an inclination toward attacking doctors.

Hundreds of people spontaneously gathered at a plaza near Guangdong General Hospital on Saturday night to mourn Chen with candles and flowers.

"The incident does cast heavy shadows over medical staff, whose desire for a safe working environment is growing stronger and stronger," said Liao Xinbo, an inspector with the provincial commission of health and family planning, who was at the event.

"But medical staff and most people with a conscience in the general public maintain a rational attitude toward the incident, calling for the maintenance of justice and punishment of violence.

"The false values that equate medical services with consumption have intensified the tensions between doctors and patients," Liao said.

"The government must enhance public education to correct people's view that they are paying for a guaranteed cure."

A student pursuing a doctoral degree in clinical medicine who declined to give her name said the incident did make her worry about personal safety, though she said she is still passionate about working as a doctor to help those in need.

"It will be sad to see doctors make personal safety a priority rather than trying every possible way to cure patients during treatment, which will worsen the relationship between doctors and patients," said the Guangzhou-based medical student.

"I hope that the government will improve the laws and regulations that protect medical staff and the accountability system that punishes medical dispute profiteers."