XI'AN, April 17 (Xinhua) -- China's vice health minister on Tuesday said 5,519 medical personnel were injured in medical disputes last year as patients' families and friends became more likely to use violence to vent their rage over hospital errors.
"The number of violent disputes has been on the rise in recent years, as misdiagnosis and operation frauds repeatedly occurred in some local hospitals and clinics," Chen Xiaohong said at a two-day national public security meeting which ended Tuesday in Xi'an, capital of northwest China's Shaanxi Province.
A total of 9,831 dispute-originated attacks were reported in 2006, damaging hospital facilities worth more than 200 million yuan (25.6 million U.S. dollars), a sharp rise from 5,093 violent cases and 67 million yuan loss in 2002, Chen said.
About 2,600 medical personnel were hurt in 2002.
"Some doctors complain that they feel very insecure and are afraid to conduct operations that might have relatively bigger risks," Chen said, acknowledging that hospitals are short of security manpower and facilities and some do not have plans to deal with such emergencies.
A growing number of Chinese took aim at public health sector in recent years as they were upset about soaring costs, medical errors and declining professional ethic.
In last December, doctors and nurses in a south China hospital were reported to have to wear helmets to shield themselves from attacks by a group of people who had abused and tussled with them over medical disputes.
The conflict began when a patient who was checking out the hospital after 17 days of treatment suddenly became breathless and died. Doctors said a group of people came to the hospital each day, put up offensive signs, abused and even fought with them.
The vice minister said a "peaceful hospital" campaign is currently carried out nationwide, aimed at solving such "prominent" security problems by raising the medical stuff's professional ethics, banning bribes and other malpractice, and increasing the hospital's security personnel.
He also ordered hospitals to map out emergency plans.