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Medical staff sacked after vagrant dies
By Wang Zhuoqiong (China Daily)
Updated: 2005-05-27 05:30

The chief doctor of an emergency substation has been suspended for "shirking his duty" after a vagrant in his care died in the street in Xi'an, capital of Shaanxi Province.

Dr Han Shabin, 50, who was working in the emergency substation at the Xi'an No 1 Hospital, had diagnosed the vagrant's illness as hypoglycaemia - a glucose deficiency - and discharged him without treatment just an hour before he died.

Dr Han and his team had been called to Xincheng Plaza on Tuesday after an emergency 120 call reported the vagrant had fallen in the street.

They found a man in rags, still conscious and able to answer Han's questions.

Han gave his diagnosis and he and his team returned to the hospital. An hour later, the man was dead.

The Xi'an Health Bureau suspended the chief on hearing of the case.

A nurse, driver and two other officials have been sacked.

The Xi'an Municipal Health Bureau and Municipal Emergency Centre and its 27 substations have ordered that medical treatment be given to patients unconditionally.

An official at the bureau said Han suggested taking the man to a nearby hospital but the patient refused for fear of having to pay for treatment.

The doctor has been described by his colleagues as experienced and professional in giving emergency treatment.

They have backed him in his diagnosis and claimed the patient must have suffered a heart attack - although there has been no post mortem. Han has in this case been accused of a cavalier attitude towards the homeless, who he picks up and treats on a regular basis off the streets of Xi'an.

Members of the public have called for an investigation.

Wang Gaizheng, deputy director of the Municipal Health Bureau, has been quoted by local media as saying the neglect of homeless people in emergency treatment is because they are often unable to pay for their treatment and become a financial burden on hospitals.

(China Daily 05/27/2005 page3)

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