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May 6, 2012

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Home » Metro » Health and Science

Hospitals voice support for police protection plan

SHANGHAI hospitals yesterday hailed the state health authority's plan to introduce police officers at major hospitals to ensure proper operations while also protecting both medical staff and patients.

However police officials said it would be difficult to implement due to a manpower shortage while health professionals questioned the impact of having police officers at hospitals.

The Ministry of Health issued an urgent notice on Friday, requiring local health bureaus to coordinate with the police to set up police offices at district or city-level hospitals.

The notice also said hospitals need to improve security and purchase equipment to ensure 24-hour monitoring of emergency departments, outpatient departments and wards.

It added that hospitals need to better train medical staff to improve doctor-patient communication and the ability to respond to emergencies.

The notice came after the Ministry of Health and the Ministry of Public Security jointly issued a statement on April 30, which banned mourning halls inside hospitals and people from threatening or insulting medical staff.

The statement was issued in response to a series of incidents nationwide in which patients injured medical staff in the past few months.

In March, a 17-year-old patient stabbed four doctors, killing one of them and injuring the other three, in a hospital in Harbin, Heilongjiang Province.

It led many medical workers to worry about their safety, with some even expressing disappointment about their career.

Officials from the Shanghai Health Bureau said they haven't received detailed orders from the ministry on setting up police offices in major hospitals.

At present, hospitals rely on their own security department and guards to protect staff and patients. They call the police if a situation escalates.

A source at the Shanghai Public Security Bureau said it may be difficult to arrange policemen at all district and city-level hospitals due to a staff shortage.

Xia Lin, an official with Shanghai Children's Medical Center, said the hospital already cooperates with a local police station, which sends four assistant policemen to patrol the hospital every day.

"Hospitals are a public venue, so the assistant policemen are somewhat of a deterrent," she said. "But they are not policemen. If facing serious events, we have to call the police. It would be good if we could have policeman on duty here to solve disputes."

She said the hospital usually calls police when a patient's family threatens to injure doctors or nurses.

"Many nurses have been slapped on the face or beaten after giving an intravenous injection and it caused a child to cry," Xia said.

Yu Fei, an official from Shanghai No. 10 People's Hospital, said putting a policeman in hospitals won't solve the key problem of poor relationships between medical staff and patients.

"The poor relationship is due to limited health resources and an improper system," Yu said. "A medical dispute is a professional problem. Policemen who have no medical background will not be able to resolve such disputes. "In the end, the hospital still has to deal with such patients."


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