The Beijing municipal government has authorised police to use weapons if necessary to defend medical staff from violent attacks, state media reported.
Police in Beijing will be allowed to use their weapons to defend medical staff from violent attacks, state media reported.
Officials announced the move as they launched year-long crackdown on hospital violence, mainly by disgruntled patients or their relatives, which in more serious cases doctors and nurses have been seriously injured or even killed.
The attacks have taken a toll on the profession. Faced with constant risks to their personal safety, morale among medical staff on the mainland has reached rock-bottom, and fewer high school graduates are choosing careers in medicine and health care.
Although the central government launched a campaign against hospital violence three years ago after a patient stabbed a doctor to death in Wenzhou, one of first such incidents, crimes involving medical disputes are still common in hospitals across the country.
At the end of June, the National Health and Family Planning Commission and eight central government departments issued a circular outlining new measures that local governments should implement to tackle the problem.
Police in Beijing were instructed to respond swiftly to calls for assistance from hospitals and to stop the attacks “decisively” – with weapons if necessary – China Central Television reported on Monday.
Surveillance equipment must be installed in public areas at mid- to higher level hospitals across the city. An adequate number of police officers must be stationed in emergency departments, where most conflicts occur. Hospitals’ own security staff will be increased and trained to apprehend violent suspects quickly.
The judicial department, according to the circular, has been told not to delay dealing with cases involving attacks on medical staff or disturbing order at hospitals. The courts must not show leniency when delivering verdicts.
Hospitals should to pay special attention to “key groups of people”, including those who are drunk, are prone to make trouble or become violent, or have violent mental disorders.
Another circular, issued by central authorities in March, banned medical institutions from paying compensation to patients in medical disputes before they went to mediation or a verdict was reached.
In the past many hospitals paid tens of thousands or hundreds of thousands of yuan to patients after they and their families rioted at hospitals.