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Doctors under protection: scheme launched
By Liu Weifeng (China Daily)
Updated: 2005-01-10 00:18

A growing number of fights between doctors and patients has led to calls for an insurance scheme to cover doctors in Beijing's hospitals.

The conflicts usually spring from patients alleging doctor malpractice.

The government is pressing ahead with a scheme which would cover 100,000 doctors in all public-funded and non-profit hospitals in the capital city.

"In the programme, the insurance company will be responsible for not only the malpractice of the doctors, but also the unsatisfactory service and the administration of the hospitals," said Deng Xiaohong, deputy director with the Beijing Municipal Healthcare Administration.

Altogether, some 1,254 hospitals in Beijing are to be involved, and it will be open to any private hospital in the city, pushing the total number to about 2,000.

Hospitals contacted by China Daily said they were unaware or had just "heard about" the programme.

Doctors at the outpatient department of the Sino-Japan Friendship Hospital said they had not heard of the scheme.

Things were no better in other hospitals.

Doctor Li at Ditan Hospital said she had heard about the insurance from the hospital's director, but it had not yet been implemented.

Xue Hai, an official with the health law and regulation office of the Beijing Municipal Healthcare Administration, still believes all hospitals will eventually get on the insurance track.

But she did not reveal the insurance cost range among different hospitals.

The Beijing branch of PICC (People's Insurance Company of China) Property and Casualty Company Limited will be responsible for some 90 per cent of this business.

Medical practice is considered to be a high-risk occupation, according to a survey conducted last month among 200 doctors in Changsha, capital of Central China's Hunan Province, the local newspaper Xiaoxiang Morning Post reported.

Fearing something could go wrong in treating a patient, more and more doctors prefer a kind of conservative approach, which, in many cases, means ineffective treatment.

Only 6.8 per cent of doctors said the relationship between patient and the doctor is harmonious; and 26.8 per cent could not understand why the patients and their families were so unco-operative.

Secretary-General with the Beijing Municipal Public Health Law Research Institute Zhang Yunlin said doctors should automatically be insured for medical responsibility.

Beijing first introduced the medical insurance in 1998, when insurance was optional to all hospitals in the city.

But only 18 hospitals got involved.

The high premium is a deterrent to most hospitals.

The annual insurance cost is thought to be about 800,000 yuan (US$97,600).

Southwest China's Yunnan Province was the first to introduce this kind of medical insurance in 1999, followed by Shanghai in 2002, Shenzhen in 2003 and Beijing in 2005.

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