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February 12, 2011

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Hospital 'refused medicine' claim

POLICE said a fight at Shanghai's Xinhua Hospital, in which a surgeon was stabbed in the chest, was over the hospital's refusal to provide medicine for a patient who died because relatives could not afford it, according to Oriental Outlook magazine.

At least six medical staff were injured in the January 31 incident and five of the patient's relatives have been detained by Yangpu District Police.

The magazine reported that an official with the Shanghai Public Security Bureau, who was not named, said the hospital decided to stop providing medicine to the patient without seeking the permission of his relatives, who had said they could not afford the medical expenses.

The hospital halted offering medicine for two days before the patient died, and this aroused extreme feelings of hatred in the relatives who then assaulted hospital staff, according to the magazine.

Relatives of other patients who witnessed the assaults told the magazine that the relatives had spent all their money and it was the hospital's decision to halt medical treatment that led to the attacks.

The relatives of the patient told the magazine that the incident was not started by a group of relatives attacking the doctors, but arose after a fierce quarrel with doctors. Both sides started to attack each other, they said.

The magazine also raised questions about details of the Shanghai Health Bureau's announcement about the incident, which had been described as an assault by about 20 relatives on doctors with one being dragged to a window on the eighth floor and a relative trying to push him out.

According to the magazine, local police press officers said the official announcement made some mistakes in its description as the health bureau had not confirmed the details with the police.

The magazine offered an alternative picture of some 12 to 13 relatives involved and a relative threatening to jump off the building rather than a doctor being pushed out.

One police officer, Gao Jun, told the magazine that the son of Liu Peng, the patient who died, had sold his apartment and spent 300,000 yuan (US$45,500) on medical treatment for his father.

However, Luo Ling, a Xinhua Hospital official, told Shanghai Daily that the magazine's report was "totally fake news that was extremely inconsistent with the facts."

She claimed that the hospital had never refused to give medicine to the patient.

Officials with Shanghai Public Security Bureau were unable to give an immediate response to the magazine article when contacted last night.

The relatives involved in the incident were said to be from Anhui Province.


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