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Health Authorities Issue Document to Clean up Doctors' Acts

The Health Ministry of China Thursday publicized a document to curb the malpractice among doctors like taking money from patients and commissions from medicine companies, which has caused serious complaints from citizens.


The document says that doctors who accept money from patients will face serious punishment and the income of hospitals should not be distributed in the contract system, which means the salary of doctors is linked to their direct sales income.


In order to receive better treatment, patients usually send envelopes containing money to doctors in charge of their treatment, usually from several hundred yuan to several thousand yuan (one US dollar equals to 8.3 yuan). But some patients complained that they received perfunctory treatment if they did not give extra money to doctors.


The other serious problem is that some doctors suggest patients buy the medicines produced by companies who give them a commission, not according to the state of their illness or their financial status.


The document says that doctors who accept money or gifts from patients will face punishment, from public criticism and dismissal to criminal penalty, and their licenses will be revoked according to the Law on Licensed Doctors.


The income of doctors should not be linked up with their diagnoses and they are also forbidden to make money by introducing patients to other medical institutions, the document says.


The medicine distributed in hospitals should be collectively purchased by inviting public bidding and all charges by hospitals should be based on the regulations of administrative departments, according to the document.


The doctors who accept money or gifts from pharmaceutical companies will be treated as accepting bribes and the names of companies bribing doctors will be released to the public and they will be deprived of the right to participate in the next bidding, the document says.


A proposal initiated by 113 prestigious doctors from Beijing-based hospitals on Thursday called on their colleagues to refuse money or gifts from patients and continue their good performance during the fight against SARS (Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome).


Experts says that the illegal operations can be mainly attributed to the monopoly of state-run hospitals, whose development fails to satisfy the increasing demand of Chinese citizens.


According to official statistics, the state-run medical agencies are still in a predominant position and provide 95 percent of all the diagnoses, treatment and hospitalization services.


With increasing public complaints on medical services, China has planned to attract more social investment to break the monopoly of state-run hospitals. The publicized document is one of official motions to ease the social pressure on medical authorities.


(Xinhua News Agency April 23, 2004)

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