China crafts new law to protect health professionals from violence


China will implement a new law to protect doctors and nurses and other health professionals, from becoming victims of violence, following the stabbing to death of a female doctor at a hospital in Beijing on December 24.

Yang Wen was working at Beijing Civil Aviation General Hospital’s emergency ward when she was attacked by a man, Chinese media claims to be related to a patient who was receiving treatment on the ward.

The law, which will take effect on June 01 next year, bans any organisation or individual from threatening or harming the personal safety or dignity of medical workers, according to state media.

Zhao Ning, an official at the National Health Commission said: “We are deeply aggrieved and enraged by this incident, particularly as the relevant law was being deliberated.”

Under the new law, those “disturbing the medical environment, or harming medical workers’ safety and dignity” will be given administrative punishments such as detention or a fine. It will also punish people found illegally obtaining, using or disclosing people’s private healthcare information.

The December 24 stabbing incident is not the first case of a death or violence in a Chinese hospital.

According to CGTN, there were at least 12 “medical incidents” involving violence and two medical workers were killed in 2018 alone.

A recent survey by Dingxiang Yuan, an online site for healthcare professionals, found 85% of doctors had experienced violence in their workplace.

The article went on to add: “Doctors are responsible for protecting society from diseases. Who protects doctors?”

An article in medical journal The Lancet claims there are many reasons why doctors in Chinese hospitals are under threat.

Poor funding can result in errors or breakdowns in communication between doctors and patients, while other factors include negative media reports about medical staff, unrealistic expectations and large healthcare bills for families on low incomes.

In October, a female doctor was fatally stabbed by a cancer patient at a hospital in Lanzhou.

In August 2018, a doctor at a Tianjin hospital was stabbed to death by three men.

A few months before that, a doctor in Anhui province was stabbed to death following an argument with the husband of a patient.

Some hospitals have even resorted to teaching its medical staff self-defence. (Source: BBC)