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Toddlers' deaths add to city's medical tension
Last Updated(Beijing Time):2007-07-17 10:36
An already tense relationship between patients and doctors in this southern city has worsened following the deaths of two babies.

Eight-month-old Li Xinyi, who suffered from congenital heart disease, died last Tuesday after two hospitals refused her a bed, saying their wards were full.

Her heart stopped beating at about 3:30 pm, more than eight hours after her mother took her to the first hospital at about 7am.

Five days earlier, 21-month-old Long Zhen died from respiratory failure caused by a serious trauma injury.

The toddler was impaled to a depth of about 30 cm on an iron spike after falling from the balcony of his home on July 4.

An emergency department doctor at the leading Shenzhen Children's Hospital said the boy needed to be hospitalized.

However, a doctor in the hospitalization department advised his parents to seek treatment at another hospital because its enteroscope for children was being repaired.

Over the next eight hours, the parents rushed from one public hospital to another but were told no effective treatment was available. At their fourth port of call doctors undertook some basic checks before suggesting the parents took the boy for surgery at the Shenzhen Children's Hospital.

The boy, who sang songs throughout his ordeal, died on the second day after receiving emergency surgery.

After carrying out separate investigations, the city's health authority said no one should be held directly responsible for Li's death as it was due to the nature of her condition.

In Long's case, however, the doctor at hospitalization department of Shenzhen Children's Hospital was found to have violated regulations as he should have solicited the opinion of more senior medics before rejecting the boy.

Despite apologies from the management of Shenzhen Children's Hospital and the doctor being punished, the two incidents have caused outrage among the city's residents.

Shen Yi, who works for a consultancy firm, told China Daily: "Most of the doctors in these two incidents did not violate existing principles of practice, but neither did they offer any help or guidance to the parents who had little idea about how to deal with their emergencies. They should take the blame for the deaths of these two youngsters."

Others have questioned the general medical system and complained about the shortage of medical resources for children.

However, one physician, who asked to remain anonymous, told China Daily that the government's decreased spending on hospitals, harsh management practices and an increased number of medical disputes had greatly damaged doctors' passion for their jobs.

"Normally a doctor is obliged to see at least 60 patients a day, which allows us no more than 15 minutes with each one. If you spend more time with someone, you might be reprimanded," he said.

"As well as the intensive workload, the misunderstanding and distrust of patients and their family members are a great burden on doctors.

"If we don't strictly follow the principles, we might have to take responsibility for any medical disputes."

Source:China Daily 
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