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Irate Patients Attack China's Doctors and Nurses in Hospital Violence

China’s hospitals are increasingly proving to be dangerous places to work.

The latest violent incident was on Feb. 20, after a patient attacked a pregnant nurse in Hangzhou, Zhejiang province. While the nurse wasn’t seriously injured, that wasn’t the case in separate attacks that same week.

On Feb. 18, a doctor had his throat slashed by a disgruntled patient in Yixian, Hebei province, while a day earlier another doctor was beaten to death by an enraged pipe-wielding patient in northeastern Heilongjiang province (the first doctor survived and was taken out of emergency care after a few days).

China’s approximately 1,000 top hospitals that each care for more than 10,000 people a day have seen a rise in “disputes escalating into violence as well as random attacks,” said Sun Haibo, an official in the Ministry of Public Security, as reported by China Daily on Feb. 24.

Now, China plans to beef up security, with two to three police officers stationed at hospitals nationwide. Guards will receive training on how to quickly identify situations that could turn violent, how to mediate, and how to collect evidence.

“In serious situations, the police will arrest and detain suspects, and, in less serious situations, the police will be able to defuse a dispute,” Sun said.

Also key: upgrading video surveillance systems and establishing security checkpoints with X-ray machines at all main entrances, said senior police officer Wei Zeng in the China Daily report. “Any prohibited items, such as knives, will be confiscated,” said Wei.

A survey last November by the polling center of China Youth Daily showed that two-thirds of all people don’t trust “doctors’ professional diagnosis and treatment,” reported Bloomberg Businessweek. China should reestablish a “public welfare” medical system and doctors need to be more “compassionate” and “patient” when dealing with those seeking treatment, the survey respondents said.

Roberts is Bloomberg Businessweek's Asia News Editor and China bureau chief. Follow him on Twitter @dtiffroberts.

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