In China, you’re more likely to beat the hell out of your doctor, than sue him.

On Thursday China Daily reported that 17,000 violent incidents took place in Chinese hospital in 2010, affecting roughly 70 percent of all public hospitals in China. What’s a “violent incident?” By and large, it’s an act of aggression by a patient, or a patient’s family, against a medical practitioner.

This week I take a deeper look into this issue in my column for Bloomberg World View.

The occasion is both sad and bizarre. Last Friday, a young medical internist in Harbin was murdered in his hospital by a disgruntled patient looking to avenge what he alleged was mistreatment by hospital staff. Hours later, an online poll was posted by People’s Daily Online (since deleted), asking netizens how they felt about the murder. Of those who answered, 65% said they were pleased. The poll was taken down, but the debate had just begun: why would anybody express happiness at a murder? The answer, for many, is that the murder served as a proxy for widespread dissatisfaction with China’s troubled health care system.

It’s an interesting topic, and you can find my take on it here.

[UPDATED: 4.3: This morning, Tom, the author of the very good  Seeing Red in China blog, writes to note that he might be one of the only foreign doctors currently working in a public Chinese hospital. Among other topics he’s discussed, he points me in the direction of three very interesting posts on patient-doctor violence that I’m very happy to recommend to my readers. They are:

Well worth considering.


Late last week, long-time reader Jay left this comment on an older post:  “Why are you not accepting comments anymore? I tend not to read blogs that don’t want a two-way conversation or welcome the possibility of feedback.”

It’s a fair question that I probably should have addressed sooner. As long-time readers have surely noticed, I’ve significantly pared the amount of time that I devote to this blog. This is largely due to my ongoing book project (due soon). What blogging happens here is mostly concerned with my Bloomberg columns, and since those are published (and paid for) at Bloomberg, I think it’s only fair that any comments on those pieces are published at Bloomberg – and not here. Thus, I don’t open those posts to comments.

But that’s not the only reason. Over the last 18 months or so I’ve found that the comments left here were of an increasingly strident bent that advanced either racist and/or nationalist opinions that I’m simply not interested in hosting. Likewise, I’m not interested in becoming a comment/flame war moderator, either. So, rather than put myself in the position of having to allow only the comments that I don’t find offensive or stupid, I’ve taken the easier route and just shut down the discussion entirely. I may change my mind once the book is done, but until then, this seems like the best option. Apologies and much respect to those of you who left many hundreds of decent and thoughtful comments over the years. In all sincerity, I hope you’ll take them to Bloomberg World View until I come up with a better solution.


And finally, since we’re on the topic of blogs that don’t allow comment, allow me to recommend a new China one – – published by several of the most distinguished China (blog) hands up in Beijing. Some of the contributors are likely known to my readers already – Jeremiah Jenne, Will Moss, Brendan O’Kane – and some are not. In any case, it’s a group blog, which means – among other things – posting has proven to be frequent, interesting, and diverse. So by all means, go have a look: