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Doctors behind bars

By Du Qiongfang (Global Times)

10:18, July 08, 2013

At the Shanghai Prison Center Hospital, 300 medical staff treat sick prisoners. Photo: Cai Xianmin/GT

The patients in this Shanghai hospital suffer from heart disease, respiratory complaints, broken limbs, cancer - all of the illnesses that ordinary people suffer. But these patients are killers, thieves, drug dealers, thugs, rapists and suspects. They need treatment however and for the 300 doctors and nurses in the Shanghai Prison Center Hospital, they are the patients they treat every day. The hospital in Pudong New Area is the only designated prison hospital in Shanghai and receives patients from prisons and detention centers all over the city.

The hospital is a large five-story white brick complex and a three-story infection ward building on Fanrong Road in Pudong New Area and it has 450 beds for prisoners, male and female, operating theaters and all of the equipment and sections of a modern hospital including an isolation ward.

But just because someone shows up at the hospital claiming they are ill does not always mean that, at this hospital especially, they really are ill. From day one here the doctors learn how to distinguish real symptoms from fake symptoms.

Dr Jiang Haitao has been working at the hospital for more than 12 years and knows that his job involves not just the skills of a doctor but often the art and expertise of a detective.

One patient arrived complaining that he had difficulty swallowing. He was given a barium meal drink and his X-ray indeed showed a shadow leading the doctors to suspect the man was suffering from a tumor in his throat.

But further tests showed that the man had tied a cotton ball to a fine thread and swallowed it secretly when the X-ray was being taken.

The 38-year-old doctor was impressed. "Faking an illness like this needed a lot of imagination."

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