Friday, 25 April 2014

Six sick crimes: Supreme Court issues guidelines on how to manage violent medical disputes

by Michael Woodhead  
In response to a wave of attacks on doctors and nurses, China's Supreme Court has released a list of six illegal activities that will be targeted as part of guidelines on how to manage violent disputes in healthcare settings.
 The criminal activities highlighted are:

1. Attacking doctors and damaging hospital property,
2. Setting up shrines and burning paper money in medical institutions [Ed note: this is done to disrupt hospitals and extort money],
3. Restricting doctors' freedom (eg harassing doctors, blocking their movement)
4. Insulting medical workers,
5. Bringing weapons into medical institutions,
6. Instigating others (including family members) to commit crimes against medical staff.

Any violations of these guidelines will result in serious consequences, and offenders will be convicted and punished under criminal law, the Supreme Court has announced. The list is part of a new 'opinion" position statement drawn up by the Supreme People's Procurate, Ministry of Public Security, Ministry of Justice, National Health and Family Planning Commission jointly entitled "On the punishment of crimes involving medical advice, medical order and maintaining normal law". The new guidelines also call on medical institutions to prevent medical disputes by ensuring a good standard of medical care, enhance medical ethics, improve service attitudes, focus on humane care and to maintain good communication with patients. They also call on institutions to set up dispute mediation protocols to handle complaints and to offer adequate security to medical staff. "The Supreme People's Court will uphold the law while handling cases involving medical disputes and severely punish those who seriously harm or even kill doctors over groundless assumptions," said Sun Jungong, the spokesman of the Supreme Court. China had more than 50,000 serious medical disputes last year and two doctors were killed by disgruntled patients, drawing the death penalty for the offenders. The Supreme Court said disputes must be handled in a timely way and resolved by arbitration or through fast track medicolegal channels if necessary.

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