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'Dead man' was alive, relatives say
By Ma Lie (China Daily)
Updated: 2004-12-17 00:25

Relatives of 53-year-old Zheng Yunzeng who was pronounced dead by a factory-owned hospital in 1998 claim the man was still alive when he was sent to a morgue.

The wife, son, daughter and elder brother of Zheng have sued the hospital of Beijing February 7 Vehicle Factory at a grass-roots court in Beijing.

The Beijing Fengtai District People's Court issued the judgment for first instance yesterday,saying due to lack of evidence it could not support the plaintiff's case.

But the court decided that the hospital failed to fulfil its obligation of taking good care of Zheng's body at morgue.

"His body had gone bad, injuring the plaintiffs' feelings," Xing Lihua, presiding judge of the case, said yesterday.

The court ordered the factory to pay a compensation of 50,000 yuan (US$6,000) to the family members of Zheng.

Zheng's wife, son, daughter and elder brother told China Daily that they disagree with the judgment and will appeal to a higher court.

Representative of the factory, Wang Dianzhang, told China Daily yesterday that officials still needed further discussions to decide whether to appeal to a higher court.

"I am basically satisfied with the court decision," he said.

Wang admitted that the refrigerator stopped working after Zheng's body was put in.

According to the judgment, the factory hospital admitted in a document put forward to the Fengtai District Health Bureau in 1998 that they failed to write a complete case report for Zheng.

But family members of Zheng absolutely believed that a serious medical accident by the hospital caused Zheng's death.

"Zheng Yunzeng's heart stopped beating for 3.96 seconds on June 10, 1998," his elder brother Zheng Fa told China Daily yesterday.

"Then the hospital stopped adopting emergency measures towards the patient and announced his death," Zheng Fa said.

"But according to common practice, only when a heartbeat and breath both stop for over five minutes can a patient be pronounced dead," he said.

Zheng Fa also said that after further investigation, there was no record of Zheng Yunzeng's case in the two hours until his being pronounced dead.

"The hospital even changed the content of the illness record and made up a fake one to avoid responsibility," Zheng Fa said.

Sources with the Beijing Municipal Bureau of Health also said that the illness record at the hospital had many changes.

Relatives of Zheng Yunzeng initially asked for compensation of 444,000 yuan (US$54,000) from the hospital.

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