Monday, 7 July 2014

Web rumour of the day: doctor sued after helping woman give birth on train

by Michael Woodhead
One of Xinhua's top stories today is about a female doctor who helped a woman give birth on a train from Beijing to Nanjing and was then sued by the mother because the baby was injured. 
Amazing story, but it isn't true, according to Xinhua. The news agency says the whole story was concocted by a disaffected young man from Henan who spread the 'baseless rumour'  on Weixin and caused the legal authorities in Nanjing a lot of grief.
The story started on June 29 when a story went viral on Weixin, Weibo and QQ. It described the case of a female doctor called Li Qian of the Beijing Third People's Hospital, who was travelling to Nanjing by train. A woman on the train went into labour and Dr Li helped to deliver her baby and saved its life. However, during the birth the baby aspirated some amniotic fluid and had breathing difficulties which required treatment at a hospital in Nanjing. The mother sued the doctor for the treatment costs and was awarded 15,000 Yuan compensation by the Nanjing Peoples Intermediate Court.
When the story was posted online it was circulated by hundreds of thousands of' 'netizens'  and elicited thousands of negative comments directed at the stupidity of the Nanjing legal authorities. The following day the Nanjing city legal office became aware of the negative and untrue rumour and reported the matter to the police. They acted swiftly and the original post was traced to a young man in Henan called Shang Mo. The Xinhua article doesn't say who Shang Mo is or what he does for a living, but he was presumably a doctor as he was said to be unhappy about the lack of legal protection for doctors against frivolous and false litigation.
 The legal authorities apprehended the man and Xinhua said he would face 'appropriate punishment from the relevant authorities'. They also reminded netizens that they must act within the law when posting things online and must not 'cross the line' and post material that is illegal and untruthful such as baseless rumours.
Update: The SCMP has now covered this story but with a major difference - it says the perpetrator was motivated by frustration over the law that restricts doctors working at only one location. That is quite different from the report by Xinhua which states that he was angry that "the law did not give doctors sufficient protection" . Not sure why the SCMP has reported this way.

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