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Doctor sues Website over 'whistleblower' remark

CHEN Xiaolan, a retired doctor known for her campaigns against medical malpractice and substandard medical appliances, has taken, one of China's largest news Websites, to court, accusing it of tarnishing her reputation.

Chen, 57, is seeking a public apology and 20,000 yuan (US$2,930) compensation for mental anguish over an item which described her as "a full-time whistleblower" and a doctor who "used to earn a great deal of money," the Zhabei District People's Court heard yesterday.

She told the court that and China Quality Promotion Magazine co-hosted an election of China's top 10 outstanding people in consumer rights protection in February and she was one of the candidates.

She said the brief introduction about her on the Website contained 10 mistakes.

Among them, it said Chen had been forced to resign and her family and the government provided financial aid for her fight against medical malpractice. The introduction also quoted Chen as saying she lived a comfortable life with her husband.

In fact, Chen's lawyer Wu Pengbin told the court, she retired, not resigned, in 2002, she had never received any money from the government, and she divorced her husband more than 20 years ago.

"She is only an ordinary retired doctor with a conscience and tries to do something she is able to," Wu said. "Calling her a full-time whistleblower will make readers think she makes profits by reporting medical malpractice."

Wu said Chen didn't earn much money. Her income all came from her pay as a doctor.

Chen said the false information resulted in her failure to win the title and the loss of a good chance to promote the protection of patients. said the content related to the election was provided by the magazine and it just offered Internet support. The magazine promised the information was accurate and the Website shouldn't be held responsible for the mistakes.

It had asked Chen to submit correct information but she didn't.

The Website said the introduction didn't contain anything that would harm Chen's reputation even if there was some wrong information. It didn't agree the introduction was to blame for Chen's failure to win.

Chen discovered in the mid 1990s that some hospitals used substandard medical appliances to offer ineffective treatment to earn money from patients.

The court didn't announce a verdict after the hearing.


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