Authorities adopt strict measures to stop attacks on doctors

By Leng Shumei Source:Global Times Published: 2016/7/11 0:38:01

Several central government departments have assigned Chinese police officers to hospitals and have allowed them to use weapons to stop violent attacks, as part of efforts to curb the frequent violence against doctors and medical staff.

China's National Health and Family Planning Commission (NHFPC) on Friday jointly released a regulation with eight other central departments, stipulating that public security departments should send exemplary police officers and auxiliary police officers to medical institutions to safeguard doctors' security.

These officers are required to take immediate measures to stop any attacks against medical staff and may use weapons against potential attackers if necessary, said the regulation.

"Sending policemen to hospitals helps prevent violent attacks against doctors because it strengthens law enforcement," Zhang Xiaodong, a doctor at the gastroenterology department of Peking University Cancer Hospital, told the Global Times.

She stressed that attacks happen less frequently in first-tier cities such as Beijing, where law enforcement tends to be stronger.

According to the new regulation, people who illegally take knives or other weapons to medical institutions will be detained, and a mechanism will be established to prevent attacks by patients with a tendency toward violence or severe mental disorders.

"It is the strictest regulation on violent attacks against medical staff in China," Liao Xinbo, a deputy director of the Department of Health of Guangdong Province, told the Global Times on Sunday.

Liao added that the categorization of attacks against doctors as a breach of law is a great improvement.

According to the amended Criminal Law which took effect in November, people who are responsible for seriously disturbing the normal working order of medical institutions will be sentenced to three to seven years in prison.

The NHFPC said in the new regulation that despite a decline in the number of conflicts and crimes relating to patient-doctor relationships since 2013, serious attacks against medical staff have continued to occur across the country.

Chen Zhongwei, former director of stomatology department of Guangdong General Hospital, was stabbed to death at home in May by a former patient enraged by his discolored teeth.

The attacker had received medical treatment from Chen 25 years ago and had a history of a medical disorder, the Xinhua News Agency reported.

Chinese netizens began a nationwide campaign to honor Chen and others, and the hashtag "black ribbon campaign" garnered more than 2.5 million page views on Sina Weibo and received more than 2,000 comments within two days.

The regulation will protect the interests of doctors and patients by ensuring conflicts concerning patient-doctor relationships are dealt with in a timely manner and in accordance with the law, said Liao.

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