Fee Collection vs. Patient Care: Internet Video Ignites Debate

April 27, 2010 1:07 am Last Updated: April 29, 2010 1:04 pm

An Internet debate over the proper role of an ambulance crew was recently ignited in China when a Youmaker video showed a crew waiting to collect their treatment fee before transporting an injured woman to the hospital.

According to netizen “Sesame Photographer,” the incident occurred when a van struck a woman riding a motorcycle in Beijing’s Fengtai District. The woman lay unconscious on the ground, and an ambulance dispatched from Beijng’s 120 Emergency Medical Center arrived 20 minutes later.

In the video clip, the ambulance staff is seen administering first aid to the woman on the ground. One of the staff asks the van driver to go with the ambulance to the hospital, but he insists on staying at the scene to wait for police. An ambulance staff member then asks the van driver to pay a portion of the treatment fee.

Although many bystanders loudly and angrily urge the ambulance crew to leave for the hospital as soon as possible, one of the staff says in a loud voice, “Who will be responsible for the treatment fee if we take off right now?”

An officer at the Beijing 120 Emergency Medical Center told The Epoch Times that the health professionals did not do anything wrong because they provided proper on-the-spot treatment, minimizing danger to the victim.

Some bloggers pointed out that the first priority of an ambulance crew should be to save lives; others argued that in a real-world situation, the ambulance crew should collect their fee after providing proper first-aid treatment.

Netizen Ou Yangyun said he felt the issue was not about the conduct of health professionals, but rather, about the current medical system. In an emergency, every second should be grasped to save victims’ lives: It transgresses the boundaries of social morality to waste time collecting money, he wrote.

Someone added, “Is this one of the consequences of the reform of our medical system? It causes people to become morally out of control.”

Read original Chinese article.