Hospitals should treat all patients with medical emergencies before charging them medical fees.
China's Vice Health Minister Ma Xiaowei said at a national conference that it violates the regulation if a hospital refuses to give emergency treatment to patients who are unable to cover their medical bills, but are in critical situation.
In addition, he said that even though the problem of arrears for emergency treatment is serious, it is not an excuse for any hospital to refuse to treat emergencies.
He suggested the government give more financial support to hospitals by drawing up a policy to deal with public health emergencies, which will also help hospitals solve the problem of arrears.
Ma Xiaowei said in order to improve the medical care system, hospitals should give priority to patients' interests. Meanwhile, hospitals should also improve their services, as well as improve their appraisals of medical accidents.
Dalian-based New Business reported on March 24 that a 45-year-old Shanxi migrant worker was seriously injured at work and in critical condition.
One week later, the patient, who needed intensive care, secretly escaped from the hospital with the help of his relatives in the evening because he was unable to pay the 9,000 yuan for emergency treatment.
A nurse from the hospital said even though the man owed the hospital medical bills, his treatment wasn't affected.
In addition, nurses bought him free dinners paid out of their own pockets.
The hospital is very worried about the situation of the man and hoped he would come back to receive treatment. It would also consider lowering his medical bills.
(CRI April 1, 2007)