A Global Times survey Wednesday showed that 62.5 percent of 6,236 respondents have a negative impression of Chinese medical staff. The survey was carried out after a 28-year-old attending medical intern at Harbin Medical University was stabbed to death by an 18-year-old patient. Three other doctors were injured in the attack on March 23.
Such incidents are not exclusive to China. The American Nursing Association once pointed out that 17 percent of US nurses have been violently attacked and a nurse in Salzburg, Austria was stabbed to death by a patient while on night duty in 2006. Conflicts between medical personnel and patients trouble many countries. But China has seen violent clashes between doctors and patients escalate in recent years.
Problems in China's healthcare system are prominent. The public has been complaining about accessibility and the high costs of hospital treatment.
Declining medical ethics have also contributed to public dissatisfaction toward the medical system.
Patients view themselves as being at a disadvantage in the doctor-patient relationship and are prejudiced against doctors. This has gradually boiled over into an anti-doctor sentiment.
Doctors are facing more pressure in China through their profession. Being demonized, more doctors become victims in disputes with patients. People tend to attribute problems to a faulty system but they forget that rampant and irrational public feelings can lead to biased mob-style actions.
Demonizing chengguan intensified the confrontation between vendors and these city management officers. A similar situation is happening in the doctor-patient relationship.
China has witnessed many conflicts during its period of social transition and the medical system is facing its most severe tensions and challenges.
Some have proposed extreme measures to ensure hospital safety, such as arming hospital staff with batons. These methods would hardly solve the root problems.
Chen Zhu, the minister of health, demanded a severe crackdown on attacks against medical personnel and for the criminals to be severely punished after the Harbin tragedy.
Enhancing legal protection is one necessary aspect, but more importantly, more rationality should be called to create a favorable social environment to avoid escalating tensions between doctors and patients.