Further oversight for doctors in wake of ‘black sheep’

China will strengthen regulation of hospitals and doctors, and crack down on corruption in the medical system, to provide better public health services, China's top anti-graft bodies have said.

"The black sheep that damage the reputation of the medical industry must be eliminated. The 'woodworms' that gnaw away at medical resources must be dug out, so as to preserve a clean and upright atmosphere in the medical industry and maintain the lofty image of medical workers, and to protect people," according to an article published on the website of the Communist Party of China Central Commission for Discipline Inspection and the National Supervisory Commission, on Sunday morning.

The article was written after Liu Xiangfeng, an associate chief physician at the Second Xiangya Hospital of Central South University in Changsha, Hunan province, was alleged to have seriously violated the law by conducting illegal procedures during medical treatments.

Reported by netizens earlier this month, Liu is said to have engaged in excessive medical treatments by exaggerating the seriousness of illnesses and conducting unnecessary surgeries. He demanded extortionate fees from patients through expensive therapeutic schedules, and persuaded them to buy costly healthcare products and medicine.

The Hunan Health Commission and Central South University set up an investigation on Aug 19 and found that Liu was suspected of breaking the law on a serious scale, according to a notice on the official website of Hunan Health Commission on Friday night.

The article from the top anti-graft bodies said that the public expects departments to not only investigate Liu, but also to figure out whether there had been a dereliction of duty in terms of supervision, benefit transfers or partnerships for profit-making. It said that those who challenge the bottom line of medical ethics should be punished, and the loopholes in the system should be filled, to respond to public concerns.

According to the article, for a long time, skilled and ethical medical workers have dedicated themselves to saving lives, especially those on the front line of COVID-19 prevention work. However, some doctors have lost their original aspirations and have engaged in unregulated acts, or even regarded patients as tools for making money, which has caused physical and mental damage.

It said targeted measures should be taken and comprehensive rectification should be conducted to solve the problem at its core.

It added that discipline inspection and supervisory commissions will strengthen the supervision of officials and cadres in the medical and health sector, crack down on illegal behavior and demand strict accountability.