Hospitals in China will set up special security departments to tackle dangerous incidents and protect doctors and patients, in the face of an increasing number of violent attacks on medical staff in recent years, according to a government circular issued Tuesday.
Hospitals should employ enough security staffers in accordance with their size, patient numbers and safety situations, said the circular jointly issued by the National Health and Family Planning Commission
and the Ministry of Public Security
The number of security guards should account for no less than 3 percent of that of medical staff, 0.3 percent of the daily average number of outpatients or one security guard for every 20 beds.
Last year, 11 violent attacks on medical staff occurred in hospitals in eight provinces and municipalities, killing seven people and injuring 28, including doctors, patients and a security guard, according to the commission's website.
Yang Juan, who has been looking after her ill father in Beijing recently, said the measure is necessary.
"If doctors are concerned about their work safety, patients will face higher risks of not receiving proper treatment," Yang told the Global Times.
However, some experts are worried that an increasing number of security staffers will make patients uncomfortable.
A hospital should be a quiet and heart-warming place, while armed security staffers will make patients feel unsafe, Sun Zhongshi, former director of the pharmacy department at the Navy General Hospital in Beijing, told the Global Times, adding that he had never seen security workers in overseas hospitals.
"The new measure may bring negative effects as some may think hospitals will possibly use force to crack down on patients if something occurs," Li Jiafu, a senior medical expert with the Zhongnan Hospital of Wuhan University, told the Global Times.
All the experts agreed that increasing security workers cannot end protests or attacks against doctors as the causes of conflicts are very complicated and some could not be solved by the hospital alone.
"An independent third-party agency is needed to solve medical disputes to avoid harassment or even violent attacks," said Huang Jiefu, former deputy health minister, reported the Beijing Morning Post.
The circular also said security equipment should be installed if necessary to prevent dangerous items from being taken into hospitals, alongside improved video surveillance and electronic inspection.
Local hospitals have already adopted certain security measures due to increasing disturbances in recent years.
Medical staff in the Shenzhen-based Shansha Hospital were required to wear helmets at work after the hospital was attacked for several days by families of a patient who died after surgery in 2006.