China: Outrage over doctor punching patient during surgery

Chinese authorities are investigating a hospital over an incident where a surgeon allegedly punched the patient he was operating on at the time.

It was captured in a clip that went viral on Chinese social media this week, sparking outrage online.

The hospital’s parent group, Aier China, has suspended the surgeon and dismissed the CEO of the hospital where the incident took place in 2019.

The BBC has contacted Aier China for comment.

The video appears to show the surgeon punching a patient in the head at least three times while operating on their eyes.

Aier China, which operates a chain of eye hospitals, said the incident took place during an operation in its hospital in Guigang, a southwestern Chinese city.

The patient was an 82-year-old woman and “during the surgery, due to local anaesthesia, the patient had intolerance”. She moved her head and eyeballs multiple times, according to their statement.

As the patient could only speak a local dialect and did not appear to respond to the doctor’s warnings in Mandarin, the surgeon “treated the patient roughly in an emergency situation”. Local authorities say the patient sustained bruises on her forehead.

After the surgery, the hospital’s management apologised and paid 500 yuan ($70, £55) as compensation, according to the patient’s son who spoke to local media outlets. He also said his mother is now blind in her left eye, though it is not clear whether it was due to the incident.

Aier China said the hospital failed to report the incident to headquarters. On Thursday it announced the dismissal of the Guiyang hospital CEO and the suspension of the surgeon – who is also the hospital dean – over “serious violations of the group’s regulations”, which included other unspecified offences.

Though the incident took place in December 2019, it only came to the public’s attention this week after a prominent Chinese doctor, Ai Fen, shared CCTV footage of the surgery.

Dr Ai, who was among a group of doctors who alerted the public to the initial Wuhan Covid outbreak, had posted the clip on her Weibo account where she has more than two million followers.

Dr Ai has been embroiled in legal disputes with Aier China since 2021 when she went for an operation at one of their hospitals . She has claimed she nearly became blind in one eye due to that operation, but Aier China has denied the allegation. –BBC

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