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Growing number of attacks on staff show cracks in healthcare system

By Miranda Shek (Global Times)

08:59, March 27, 2012

A black shroud has been spread over Harbin Medical University and its First Affiliated Hospital for the past few days as staff, teachers and students mourned the death of Wang Hao, a medical intern stabbed by a patient on Friday.

This is the latest in a string of conflicts that have sprung from medical disagreements as increasingly distrustful patients resort to violence against medical staff often believed to be focusing more on financial interests than curing their patients.

A recent Tencent poll showed the appalling truth as 19 percent of respondents said they were happy at hearing of this tragedy.

A bright future ended

Wang Hao, a 28-year-old attending medical intern at the First Clinical College of Harbin Medical University, had been due to start his doctorate at Hong Kong University in September until an 18-year-old boy, Li Mengnan, stabbed him to death. Three other doctors were also injured as Li lashed out at random in the ward. Wang Yu, a doctor, may yet lose an eye after he was stabbed in the face.

A statement from the hospital said Li, who suffered from spinal problems and tuberculosis, had traveled to Harbin from Inner Mongolia with his grandfather to see the doctor.

A doctor at the rheumatism department suggested Li consult another doctor to cure his tuberculosis before his back problem could be worked on. Harbin police said that Li sought revenge after doctors failed to give him the treatment he expected.

Li attempted to commit suicide after the attack, but on-duty police at the hospital stopped and arrested him.

The First Clinical College of Harbin Medical University remained tight-lipped about the attack, with a spokesman, Lu, only telling the Global Times that the hospital was caring for the injured and would help Wang's family with funeral arrangements.

"The accident was a tragedy and our staff were greatly shaken," he said. "But it was not a medical dispute, as the authorities interrogated the alleged attacker and it was a revenge crime."

The Chinese Medical Doctor Association issued a statement after the attack, urging authorities to protect the safety of medical staff.

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