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Two killed in doctor-patient brawl in central China

A doctor and a patient died following a fight in a central China hospital on Saturday morning, local authorities said, fanning the flames of already heated doctor-patient relations in China.

When two drunk men went to seek treatment for foot injuries at the People's Hospital in Luanchuan County, Henan Province, one of them, Li, started a fight with Dr.Jia who was on duty at the time. During the scuffle, an elevator door was somehow opened and the two fell down the shaft.

According to police, Li was killed instantly, while Jia died later after unsuccessful attempts to save him.

The incident has unleashed the anger of local medical staff. Doctors and nurses went on strike in the county on Saturday afternoon, demanding government protection.

Doctor-patient relations in China have been fraught with incidents of this kind in recent years, as frustration, misunderstanding and dissatisfaction have resulted in violence.

According to the National Health and Family Planning Commission, the country reported 115,000 medical disputes in 2014, a decline of 8.7 percent over 2013.

Earlier this month, three men were detained for beating a pregnant nurse and causing her to miscarry. In 2014, a doctor from northeast China's Heilongjiang Province was beaten to death by a patient.

A guideline in April 2014 stipulated six types of criminal disruption of medical work that will be severely punished, including attacking doctors, damaging public property and insulting medical workers.

The problem is particularly difficult because it is the result of a range of factors including poor communication, improper behavior by medical staff and an incomplete legal mechanism for dealing the matter. One of underlying reasons is uneven distribution of medical resources, according to Guo Yufen, deputy director with the health bureau of northwest China's Gansu Province.

Patients flood into big hospitals in search of quality medical equipment and good doctors, which puts considerable strain on the system and inevitably mars doctor-patient communication.

A doctor in Henan told Xinhua that doctors and patients are mutually suspicious of one another these days following reports of medical disputes, causing "emotional resentment".

"I have to be very careful when I treat my patients, because I do not want to be accused of making profits by prescribing unnecessarily," said the doctor on condition of anonymity.

Guo suggests that an authoritative institution should establish exactly what lies behind these disputes, while specialist courts need to be set up to ensure justice.


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