Doctor suspended for overpriced insoles

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One of the top hospitals in Nanjing, Jiangsu province, suspended the head of its elderly rehabilitation department on Wednesday for his role in the sale of overpriced and ineffective corrective insoles used inside patients' shoes. 

Jiangsu Province Hospital said it will continue to probe illegitimate medical practices in response to recent media reports that cast doubt on the hospital's credibility.

"We will take a zero-tolerance attitude toward the issues reflected in the news report. We will conduct a comprehensive investigation and punish those involved in the case in accordance with regulations," the announcement said.

A pair of corrective insoles - priced at 2,650 yuan ($387) by the hospital's department of traditional elderly rehabilitation - came with a promise of significant improvements for a wide range of orthopedic problems, and were endorsed by the department head, Xinhua News Agency reported on Tuesday.

The expensive insoles were made by a medical device manufacturer in Nanjing, which had formed a partnership with Hu Zhihong, head of the department, by enrolling him as a technology adviser, Xinhua said.

Hu has been recommending the insoles to his patients and allegedly received about 200 yuan for each purchase. In December 2017 alone, about 40 pairs of corrective soles were sold through Hu, accounting for half of the hospital's monthly product sales.

Eight other staff members at the hospital also received sales commissions. Total profits from a pair of such insoles exceeded 2,000 yuan. 

The basic insoles were bought from another company in Lianyungang, Jiangsu province, for about 260 yuan and had a few simple changes made to puff them up, an insole manufacturer told Xinhua.

Medical device manufacturers who pay commissions to doctors are breaking the law, according to an official with the market regulation authority in Nanjing who was quoted by Xinhua. The official wasn't named. 

Jiangsu Province Hospital, which was established in 1936, ranks first in the province and 10th in China as measured by Chinese Academy of Medical Sciences evaluations of scientific and technological prowess.

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