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Medical workers choose to save man's life, not his clothes

By China Daily | China Daily | Updated: 2017-09-26 08:07

Four emergency medical workers at a hospital in Wuhan, Hubei province, paid 1,000 yuan ($151) in compensation for the cost of a patient's clothes they had cut off while saving his life.

The incident triggered hot discussion online, with many netizens expressing anger at the patient's family and some even offering to pay on behalf of the medical team. Some thought the hospital should not have cut off the man's clothes.

At 4:25 pm on Sept 11, a 34-year-old internet cafe worker, Li Ping, fainted and was sent to the emergency center at Wuhan University's Zhongnan Hospital, Beijing News reported.

"An acute pulmonary embolism left Li in a coma. When he was sent to the hospital, he was in cardiac arrest and couldn't breathe," Xia Jian, deputy director of the emergency center, was quoted as saying by Xiandai Jinbao newspaper. "Li was at extreme risk, and a rescue team was established immediately."

Surveillance video from the operating room showed at least eight medics treating Li, including four doing chest compressions.

At about 5:30 pm, two staff members used scissors to cut off Li's clothes, and then laid the pieces aside. At around 6 pm, the rescue team attached an artificial heart-lung apparatus on the man, the video showed.

"Every minute is precious during a rescue. We cut off his clothes so as not to lose time," Xia said.

He said Li's condition improved and he was transferred to intensive care that night. Seven days later, he was out of danger and transferred to a regular hospital ward.

Beijing News reported that Li's father claimed the hospital owed 1,500 yuan in compensation for his son's losses during the treatment. He said his son's clothes - including 500 yuan in cash, and his ID and bank cards that were in his pocket - had been lost.

The hospital rejected the claim, insisting that the rescue team had done nothing wrong.

On Sept 19, Li's family returned to the hospital, this time with the police, and asked for 1,000 yuan. Beijing News reported that the four medical workers from the hospital paid the money.

On Friday, Wang Xing, the hospital's president, praised the emergency team and reimbursed the 1,000 yuan the four medics had paid out, Chutian Metropolis Daily reported.

"Successfully saving the man from a pulmonary embolism was hard-won. We will cut clothes without hesitation in the future," he was quoted as saying.

He added that the hospital will continue to improve its services and several bags will be installed in the emergency room to keep patients' clothes and belongings.

Li Huijuan, a lawyer specializing in medical disputes, said: "It is reasonable for medical staff to cut off the patient's clothes because saving a life is their top priority."

"There are no rules or regulations about details like the proper disposal of a patients' belongings, but it is common sense that the hospital should keep the clothes instead of throwing them away. If they mistakenly throw out the clothes in an emergency, it is understandable," he said.

Zhang Yi contributed to this story.

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