NANJING - More than 30,000 medical workers have added their names to a website calling for a harmonious relationship between patients and hospitals after a nurse was beaten and paralysed in Nanjing, Jiangsu province.
Since the online signature drive was launched on Feb 28 by ememed.net, a medical website, it has attracted thousands of medical professionals from across the country.
On Feb 25, Chen Xingyu, a nurse at Nanjing Stomatological Hospital, was beaten with an umbrella and dragged from the nurse's station by a female patient's mother.
In the ensuing melee, the patient's father scuffled with other members of the hospital's staff.
Chen, the injured nurse, had assigned a male patient, who had just received surgery under general anaesthesia, to the hospital's only available bed at the time, which was in the same ward with the female patient, who complained.
After failing in a phone call to get their daughter moved, the parents went to the hospital and allegedly started a fight.
Chen, who is in her 20s, was diagnosed with spinal cord injuries and fluid in the heart cavity. She was sent to a nearby hospital for treatment and may be paralysed for the rest of her life.
Yuan Yaping, the mother, was detained by police on Wednesday evening. She worked as deputy curator of Jiangsu Science and Technology Museum.
Dong Anqing, the father, was removed from his post as director of the publicity department of the Jiangsu Provincial People's Procuratorate. He received administrative and Party punishments for his part in the incident.
According to Nanjing's public security bureau, the case will be processed when Chen finishes her treatment regimen and judicial authentication of her injuries has been completed.
"Better legal protections should be provided to medical workers to prevent such violence," said Wen Jianmin, director of Beijing's Wangjing Hospital.
"China's hospitals are not considered public places, so police often let them deal with the incidents by themselves," Wen was quoted by cnr.cn as saying.
He added that, theoretically, the nurse can recover from her paralysis, but when and to what extent are uncertain.
According to the National Health and Family Planning Commission, 2,240 assaults on medical workers took place in the first eight months of 2013.
Many hospitals in Nanjing have taken measures to protect their staffs, such as providing electric batons and self-defence training.
In a hospital in the downtown district, police have started patrols to ensure the safety of medical workers. Hospital guards have also been equipped with iron forks to catch attackers quickly.
Some hospitals in Beijing have introduced insurance covering surgical mishaps to ease tensions between patients and medical workers.
Since it was introduced on Jan 24, 57 patients or their relatives have participated in the insurance programme at Beijing YouAn Hospital.