CCTV reported early last week that the Ministry of Health reported 17,243 cases of major disturbance at the nation's hospitals in 2010, up 7,000 from five years before.
In many of these cases, triad-like gangs were involved in upping the ante, the state broadcaster said.
The Xinmin Evening News noted on Thursday that these extortionist machinations are driven in big part by the belief that "big rows bring big money, small rows less, no rows no compensation at all."
One of the main reasons patients have turned to yi nao rather than the law to seek redress in medical disputes is that they are deeply skeptical of the litigation process, which is extremely slow.
Some victims of possible medical error finally take revenge on doctors as they see no hope in righting the wrongs through the law. Scuffles are common.
The Southern Weekend newspaper opined in October that prolonged and ineffectual medical litigation often makes matters worse. It referred to the case of a cancer patient who, convinced that the doctor's botched surgery on his throat had made him mute, fatally stabbed her with a knife in Beijing Tongren Hospital on September 15. The man had sued the doctor and hospital for compensation but the case dragged on for four years without a ruling. Out of desperation, he raised the knife.
Such loopholes in our legal aid system, unless plugged, will inevitably be exploited by yi nao.
Chinese hospitals have over the years become troubled, even hateful, places where violence against doctors is sometimes applauded.
A young intern doctor was killed and three others seriously injured by a patient in the worst attack on medical workers in years on March 23 in a hospital in Harbin, capital of Heilongjiang Province. The assailant was said to be motivated by what he called the doctor's indifference to his spinal disease.
The online reaction to the tragedy has sent a chill down the spines of the authorities. A majority of Internet users who commented on the incident were supportive of inflicting violence on "greedy" doctors.
The popular venom is a grisly indicator of the magnitude of doctor-patient tensions.
The market reform of hospitals is mainly to blame for public distrust of doctors, many of whom regularly prescribe overpriced and unnecessary medicine for kickbacks, and order expensive unnecessary tests. Their salaries are linked to hospital profits.
But what the public often does not know is that doctors also over-prescribe antibiotics or tests to shield themselves from potential liability claims.
Creeping cynicism makes doctors wary of risks in treating patients. That attitude, however, arouses the suspicion that they are shirking responsibilities.1 2