Hospitals under Review for Unethical and Profit-Driven Conduct

Publication: China Brief Volume: 7 Issue: 8

A Chinese undercover reporter’s story has resulted in a national uproar over the country’s healthcare practices. Posing as a patient, the reporter submitted tea as his urine sample to ten hospitals in Hangzhou, Zhejiang Province to see if they would treat him for his “disease” based upon the results of his urinalysis (Xinhua, April 11). Six of the ten hospitals reported that their labs had discovered blood cells in his “urine” samples and doctors from five of the hospitals proceeded to prescribe expensive drugs to treat his disease, without conducting any additional tests. The story has sparked a nationwide debate over the lack of stringent regulations and standards governing many of the hospitals and healthcare providers, who are accused of profit-driven conduct (China Brief, December 6). On the same day, the Ministry of Health announced that it was conducting examinations of all hospitals that want to carry out organ transplants and would soon publish a list of state-approved hospitals for such operations (Xinhua, April 11). Organ transplant procedures are enormously profitable in China and there has been a surge in the number of hospitals and doctors offering such services in recent years. The increase, however, has been accompanied by a disproportionate rise in the number of deaths occurring from the transplants, leading many to suspect that hospitals and doctors, ill-equipped to perform such operations, are doing so nonetheless because of its profitability.