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Questions linger over gouged eyes incident

By Zheng Caixiong in Guangzhou | China Daily | Updated: 2013-10-11 07:03

A special police task force has been set up to investigate the case of a 66-year-old patient whose eyes were gouged out in a mental hospital ward in Gaozhou, Guangdong province.

Police have not released any details of the case but, according to local media, forensic experts have ruled out the possibility of the patient having been attacked.

According to doctors, Huang Chaoqiang developed a mental health condition in March following a stroke.

He was sent to Maoming No 3 People's Hospital for psychological rehabilitation on Sept 20, where he was diagnosed with a psychological disorder.

On the night of Oct 3, Huang was found in the hospital with both of his eyes gouged out. They were found under his bed.

The hospital said Huang had gouged out his own eyes in an act of self-mutilation at about 11:50 pm.

A doctor and the head nurse on duty that night have been removed from their posts, the hospital said.

It has admitted to failures in management and promised to compensate Huang and his family after the investigation has been completed.

The hospital did not have closed-circuit television installed on the wards.

Huang's son, Huang Yingyuan, said it was impossible for his father to have dug out his own eyes.

"My father was physically frail in bed when I went to see him two days earlier. I can't believe he would have done that to himself," Huang was quoted by the local media as saying.

"He was too weak to even cough," Huang added.

After the incident, the old man was transferred to Gaozhou People's Hospital. Doctors said his life is not in danger but his eyesight cannot be restored.

Maoming's bureau of public health has set up a working group to help investigate the case.

Jia Fujun, a senior psychiatrist from Guangdong Provincial People's Hospital, said that mental patients sometimes mutilate themselves.

"But the possibility of external attack should not be ruled out until a thorough investigation has been conducted," Jia said.

"The hospital should be held responsible as the incident happened on its ward," he added.

According to statistics from Guangdong provincial commission of health and family planning, more than 440,000 people have been registered at local hospitals as having serious mental disorders.

Around 70 percent of the mentally ill in Guangdong have not received regular treatment, local media reported.

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