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Document regulating medical workers issued

By Shan Juan (China Daily)

08:30, July 19, 2012

Medical workers are prohibited from receiving gifts in any form from patients or kickbacks from companies, said an official document regulating medics' practices.

The Ministry of Health, the State Food and Drug Administration and the State Administration of Traditional Chinese Medicine issued the document containing 60 items on Wednesday.

Its provisions apply to all medical workers on the mainland, including related administrative staff in health institutions.

"It will help to better regulate the practices of China's medical workers, improve medical care quality, amend the doctor-patient relationship and ensure the smooth implementation of ongoing medical reforms," Zhao Minggang, deputy director of the ministry's department of medical administration, said on Wednesday.

In recent years, China has seen an increasingly strained relationship between medics and patients due to a lack of funding for hospitals and an emphasis on market orientation that has led to overtreatment, he said.

So far this year, there have been eight occasions when doctors were injured or killed, according to Xie Qilin, secretary-general of the Chinese Medical Doctor Association, which also took part in drafting the document.

"I don't think that represents mainstream doctor-patient relations, and most of our medics are highly qualified, both professionally and morally," Zhao said.

He noted that nowadays it was difficult to be a doctor, balancing ethics, efficacy and costs while practicing.

Doctors are required to strictly follow clinical guidelines and administer proper and rational medication, said the document.

"Overtreatment is prohibited," the document said.

Xie conceded that sometimes it was hard to clearly define the term overtreatment.

He revealed that the association, together with the ministry, was now considering introducing a "blacklist" to shame medics who break the regulations.

Authorities of health institutions are in charge of enforcing the document, said Zhao.

The document will play a role when it comes to evaluating medics and deciding the payroll.

However, he also admitted that the document could not define punishments other than administrative measures, which might undermine its authority.

Zhao also revealed that the ministry is considering introducing mandatory liability insurance on the mainland.

Currently it was optional, and some hospitals chose to buy it from commercial insurance companies.

Earlier on Wednesday, the ministry launched the Chinese version of the Patient Safety Curriculum Guide, devised by the World Health Organization.

The guide aims to upgrade the level of care and attention given to hospital patients.

To help improve care, the WHO has developed the guide with a multi-professional perspective, a systematic approach and a global reach, said WHO Director-General Margaret Chan, who addressed the launch in Beijing.

"It would also assist universities to integrate patient safety learning into their existing curricula," she said.

It will also help dentistry, medical, midwifery, nursing and pharmacy students to understand and practice safe healthcare delivery, Chan said.

Ma Xiaowei, vice-minister of health, said that the guide would help improve the quality of medical care.

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