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Mediation heals most patient-hospital disputes

By Yan Shuang (Global Times)

08:16, January 11, 2012

More than 70 percent of Beijing's hospitals have had medical disputes with patients, with most cases arising in the maternity section, according to statistics from a third party medical disputes mediation organization Monday.

Some 72 percent of hospitals have experienced angry patients beating, threatening or cursing medical staff and 77 percent of hospitals have had patients refusing to leave and would not pay for the hospitalization after their treatment, according to Beijing People's Mediation Committee of Medical Malpractice Disputes, Beijing Morning Post reported yesterday.

The committee has dealt with 571 cases since its establishment in May 2011, and their mediation worked in almost 90 percent of them.

"The maternity section is one with very high risk. Infants are very delicate and vulnerable to diseases, and a doctor's small mistake could lead to a lifelong effect on a baby," said Zhao Jiewen, a doctor with the No.2 Hospital of Armed Police Forces.

"Usually the hospital won't charge them money for medication or treatment when the patients start a complaint or a fight, and we try our best to keep the dispute from getting to court," she told the Global Times.

When disputes become acute they end up in court, which is a time-consuming and costly way to solve the problem, said Wang Liwei, a lawyer with Beijing Chenghui Law Firm.

Seeking mediation from the committee, comprised of mediators with diverse backgrounds, including lawyers, doctors, and medical institute managers, is a better and easier way address the issue, Wang said.

Although there are no statistics showing a decrease in medical dispute complaints the bureau receives, mediation is definitely helpful for many patients, said Ma Yanming, media spokesperson for the municipal Health Bureau.

"We used to have mediation centers but many questioned their credibility as they're under the administration of government authorities. The third party committee works with more equality," he said.

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