Some privately owned hospitals in China have been accused of overprescribing patients in a TV program where a reporter who used green tea as a sample in a urine test was diagnosed with various diseases.
Green-tea urine stirs up debate.[ Photo / Video clip ]
But some doctors questioned the reporter's method of using green tea to judge the accuracy of medical tests. They told Shanghai Daily it was very "unprofessional" for the reporter to use green tea as sample.
In the China Central Television program, an undercover reporter went to a major public hospital in Beijing for a health check and his results all turned out to be fine.
Then he went to several private men's health hospitals and, during the urine test, gave a small cup of green tea as a sample.
He was stunned when doctors at a hospital in Shijiazhuang, in Beijing's neighboring Hebei Province, told him they found an excessive level of white blood cells in his "urine," indicating that he was suffering prostatitis, an inflammation of the prostate gland, and orchitis, swelling in the testicles.
A doctor told him that he would need to undergo seven days of treatment, with each day costing him 546 yuan (US$86).
At another private hospital in Shenyang, capital of Liaoning Province, a doctor checked the same green tea sample and diagnosed that he had spermatoceles, or cysts near his reproductive organs, and needed immediate surgery, costing 5,000 yuan.
A third hospital in Changchun, capital of Jilin Province, told him he needed to pay 8,000 yuan for a health check.
The program sparked a public outcry online.
Some people said they wouldn't know where to seek medical help after watching the program.
"He could have just used his own urine sample to go through the test to see whether the doctors were diagnosing him randomly," said a netizen on Weibo.com.
"Oh, no! Did his investigation show that we'd better not drink green tea anymore?" was another comment on the microblog.
"The same thing happened to me when two doctors in a Shijiazhuang hospital told me that I had lung cancer and needed to be treated immediately, but then a Beijing hospital said I'm just having a cold," Jiang Yu posted.
"This shows that you will sure be diagnosed with some disease once you're in hospital, whether you're ill or not," Pan Xueyan wrote.
However, others said the journalist shouldn't have set up such a trap for hospitals because a doctor should believe the sample was from the patient, without having to check its authenticity. Otherwise, they said, it would be a waste of medical resources to verify samples or complaints by the patients.
"Equipment is designed to check biochemical indicators like white cell counts in blood or urine for medical purpose, not checking whether it is urine or green tea," said Dr Wang Guisong from Shanghai's Renji Hospital.