Nation

Family sues over hospital death

By Chen Jia (China Daily)
Updated: 2009-12-18 07:50
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A lawyer for a hospital where a doctor was accused of watching a movie at the same time a patient's life-support machine was malfunctioning said that man's eventual death was not related to the incident.

Lu Yuexiang, the hospital's lawyer, told China Daily yesterday the patient's death was not a medical accident, an investigation by a panel of medical experts authorized by a local court showed.

The family of the man who died has sued Ma Xinhua, a doctor in the Xiangya Hospital under Central South University, as well as the hospital, which is in Changsha, capital of Hunan province, for the death. Information about the case was posted by famous blogger Zhang Hongfeng, the Guangzhou Daily reported yesterday.

The newspaper quoted the dead patient's son surnamed Tang as saying that on June 25, when he visited his father in the intensive care unit, he discovered that the power to his father's life-support machine was off.

"I found Ma Xinhua ... watching popular movie Kung Fu Panda in his office," Tang was quoted as recalling.

"He was unhappy to be interrupted by me when I hastened him to check my father's situation."

Tang said his father fell into a deep coma after the machine stopped working. He stressed that the hospital should be responsible for his father's death as its workers did not know that the life-support machine was not working and failed to give his father timely treatment. He recorded his talks with the hospital as evidence after he failed to solve the problem through private negotiations with the hospital.

But Lu said Tang's claim is baseless. "The life-support machine's alerting device alerted the nurse and doctor on duty that night, after a temporary power trip happened to the machine," Lu said. "The hospital didn't check out any evidence about a movie on the doctor's computer."

The man died days after this incident, but the temporary power failure had nothing to do with his death, Lu said.

This is the second recent hospital case that netizens have blamed on negligent doctors.

In the first case, a 5-month old baby died in Nanjing Children's Hospital while the doctor was playing a game online last month.

The ophthalmologist, Mao Xiaojun, was dismissed from the hospital and deprived of his medical certificate.

Since 2002, more than 10,000 lawsuits over medical disputes have been filed in China each year.

(China Daily 12/18/2009 page4)