In recent months, several media outlets such as BBC and Forbes have talked about some of the problems facing China’s health care industry. Note that both describe it as an “industry” rather than a system.
A story of an unscrupulous abortion surgeon in Dongguan which appeared in yesterday’s Guangzhou Daily showed how corrupt and costly parts of this industry are.
On Monday afternoon (October 14) Wu Zhaoqun, 18, went to the Yinshan Clinic in Dongguan’s Qingxi Town to get an abortion. Before the surgery, the price of 460 yuan was agreed upon. However, three minutes into the operation, the surgeon increased the cost way up to 7,700 yuan and refused to complete it until she finished.
Wu and her boyfriend Zhang Leiqi, 21, who have just started their working lives, cannot afford that sort of money. She was left bleeding on the table for three hours until Zhang negotiated the price down to 4,400 yuan and the operation was completed.
The Qingxi Ministry of Health is investigating the incident, and a representative of the clinic has put it down to the individual doctor having a poor attitude or failing to communicate clearly.
Zhang explained that his girlfriend turned out to have a cervical cyst that needed to be dealt with before the operation. However, there is no logical reason why the cost would multiply to such an extent. His girlfriend had to endure three hours of excruciating pain during the subsequent standoff and it could have been fatal.
Now that it has appeared in a newspaper, the issue could go all the way up to provincial-level authorities and the clinic could lose its license.
This is just the latest scandal in a country in which relying on medical professionals can be a scary experience. Acts of violence, including murder, by patients against doctors are common. Last year, a People’s Daily survey showed that the majority of netizens supported these acts of violence.
Another survey conducted last year by a group of students at Hunan Normal University found that 61% of doctors in China hated their jobs, so the temptation to be corrupt can be overwhelming.
China is not necessarily a society in which mothers want their children to grow up to be doctors