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5.4m-yuan cancer treatment in dispute
By Xiao Ma (China Daily)
Updated: 2005-11-25 05:50

The family of a man who died of cancer is contesting massive medical bills, some of which are dated for treatment given days after the man died.

Weng Wenhui, who died on August 6 at the age of 75, spent the last 67 days of his life at Harbin No 2 Hospital attached to Harbin Medical University in Heilongjiang Province.

While there, he racked up 1.4 million yuan (US$173,000) of hospital fees.

On top of hospital charges which averaged 21,000 yuan (US$2,600) per day Weng's family also spent a further 4 million yuan (US$493,200) on medicine, China Central Television (CCTV) reported on Wednesday.

The huge 5.4 million yuan (US$666,000) total has amazed experts and caused Weng's family, who honoured the bills, to question the hospital's honesty.

Ma Yuguang, former deputy chief of the Beijing-based General Hospital of the Ministry of Water Conservancy, told CCTV he was astonished by the bill saying it could be "a record in China."

Weng's eldest son, Weng Qiang, a businessman, who shouldered most of the bills, said the medical costs were worthwhile if treatment prolonged his father's life for just one minute.

But family members have now cast doubt on the massive costs, Beijing News daily yesterday quoted Weng's wife, Fu Xiumei, as saying.

According to Fu, one medical bill contained a medicine to which Weng was allergic, and two bills for tests on her husband are dated August 8 two days after he died.

The hospital set up a special team in mid-August to investigate the family's allegations of malpractice. Team head Yang Hui said he had found no evidence of anyone doing anything wrong.

However, the result could not convince Weng's family.

Now the Ministry of Health has sent a team to the hospital to investigate the alleged problems.

Yu Lingfan, head of the Intensive Care Unit where Weng was treated, told CCTV that the high costs were a result of special care for the patient, who at the time was "very seriously ill."

Family members also demanded the hospital to "go all out" to save Weng, a retired high school teacher, she said.

"Our efforts resulted in high medical costs. We even reduced some of the charges," Yu added.

But Wang Xueyuan, a senior doctor who oversaw much of Weng's treatment, told CCTV that some bills conflicted with treatment he had directed, adding that he thought medicines had been wasted in the process of treating Weng.

The hospital, which is more than 50 years old, is well known in the provincial capital and treats more than 50,000 patients each year.

(China Daily 11/25/2005 page3)

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