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Medical disaster brings ministry warning
By Guo Nei (China Daily)
Updated: 2006-01-27 06:39

The Ministry of Health issued a warning Thursday to health watchdogs and medical institutions to learn from a serious medical accident in which 10 patients lost their eyesight in East China's Anhui Province.

All medical institutions and workers are urged to abide by relevant laws and regulations and follow the moral code of medical services, said a circular issued by the ministry on its website.

Medical administration departments must also improve their supervision of medical institutions, the circular said.

It reminded public hospitals of the prohibition against participating in illegal commercial co-operations such as renting out their medical departments.

Ten people who had cataract surgery at the Suzhou City Hospital in Anhui last month became seriously infected after their operations, the ministry circular said.

All 10 patients were transferred to Shanghai the next day, but when emergency treatment there failed, doctors had to remove the eyeballs of nine patients and remove part of the corneas from the 10th, it said.

Ranging in age from 33 to 81, all the victims now live in misery, reports said.

"My eyes keep festering, and I suffered so much that I could not fall asleep at night," said Zhang Juling, 80, one of the victims.

To conduct the surgery, Zhang and his wife sold grain and borrowed money from their relatives to collect 2,800 yuan (US$345) for his operation.

Inquiries showed that the scandal reflected the chaotic management of the hospital, its illicit co-operation with a non-medical concern as well the disregard of medical regulations, the circular said.

It blamed an illegal co-operation between the hospital and the Shanghai Shunchunyang Science and Technology Trading Co for carrying out the cataract operations.

It turned out that the Shanghai company was not licensed to provide medical services.

After the tragedy, the Anhui Provincial Department of Public Health confiscated 318,600 yuan (US$39,330) that the hospital collected for the illegal operations.

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