The latest draft of a basic medical care and health promotion law highlights the safety and dignity of medical staff members and is designed to deter threats, violence or derogatory behavior against them.
The draft was submitted to the Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress, the country’s top legislature, for second reading on Oct 22. The first reading took place in December.
The draft prohibits threats or harm to medical workers, or offending their dignity.
The newly added rule is part of legislators’ efforts to build harmonious doctor-patient relations amid rising media reports of medical disputes, some of which have escalated into injuries to medical professionals.
In a recent case, a 46-year-old man surnamed Zheng was accused of attacking a gynecologist at Peking University First Hospital on Sept 22 after the doctor refused to perform a C-section on his 44-year-old wife.
Zheng was detained by police on Oct 13 for criminal investigation, pending trial. The doctor suffered broken bones.
The incident prompted 28 departments, including the country’s top economic planner and health and public security authorities, to release a circular on Oct 16 calling for severe punishment of assailants, but the new draft goes further, for the first time incorporating a ban on aggression against medical staff members into the law.
“The draft revision is a timely answer to appeals from medical service providers who have been calling for efforts to curb violent acts against them,” said Deng Liqiang, director of the Chinese Medical Doctor Association’s legal affairs department.
By incorporating the safety of medical workers into the draft law, he said, the country’s legislative body would help further secure normal operations at hospitals and clinics.
The new draft also stipulates that no organization or individual is allowed to disrupt order at medical facilities, and a framework dedicated to preventing and resolving medical disputes will be established to help maintain order.
To further ease tensions between doctors and patients, the draft emphasizes strengthening education on medical ethics and requires written consent in advance of operations, special examinations and treatment.
“We hope to see an ideal doctor-patient relationship in China, where patients trust doctors and doctors treat patients with empathy,” Deng said.