No Money, No Treatment

December 23, 2005 12:00 am Last Updated: December 23, 2005 12:00 am

TAIPEI – A peasant worker from northeast China died in the Tongren Hospital in Beijing due to a severe stomach conditions without receiving treatment. The hospital refused to take him in when he could not afford to pay the registration fee. Police are investigating this incident.

According to Hong Kong-based Tsing Pao Daily News , Wang Jianmin, 37, was sent to Beijing Tongren Hospital twice for a sudden stomachache accompanied by blood in his stomach. But the hospital refused to take him when he could not pay the 5-yuan (US $0.62) registration fee. As a result, he died in the hospital after a night of pain and suffering.

Mr. Wang came from Qiqihar City in northeast China to work in Beijing a week earlier. He had been staying and sleeping on the chair in the waiting room of Beijing Railway Station every night, where he met another peasant worker, Du Guifa.

Mr. Du said that at about 11 p.m. on Dec. 11, Wang appeared to suddenly suffer from severe stomach pain, and then vomited blood. Du immediately rang for an ambulance, which took them to Tongren Hospital near the station. The emergency room doctor took Wang's blood pressure and wrote him a prescription.

Du said, “We didn't have 5 yuan for the registration fee, nor could we pay for the ambulance.” The hospital refused to treat Wang because he didn't have any money. Wang started arguing with the doctor. The doctor said, “We've just checked you. You are not fatally ill. We are not watching you dying without giving you medical treatment. But you won't get treated until you pay.”

Du had to help Wang walk out of the hospital. At that time, Wang was already unable to stand straight because of the pain. They met a friend of Wang's outside of the hospital who took Wang back into the hospital to seek treatment. Wang's friend paid the registration fee for him; but they still couldn't afford to buy any medicine. Instead, Wang received a painkiller shot that cost 1.8 yuan.

Ten hours after Wang returned to the railway station, he started vomiting blood again and rolling on the ground in pain. A policeman and Du carried Wang onto the ambulance, and rushed him to Tongren Hospital once more. The hospital staff put Wang on a stretcher in the hall. The doctor said to the policeman, “It's not life-threatening.” signaling them to leave. Du begged the doctor, “Wang's relatives are raising money for him right now. Could you please treat him before the money gets here?” “No treatment unless he pays,” the doctor reportedly said.

In the early morning of Dec. 13, Wang repeatedly called for help in the corridor of the hospital, but no doctors came. The security guard lifted and carried him to the men's restroom on the ground floor. At about 7:30 p.m., Wang started vomiting black blood so violently that the wall had spots of his blood everywhere. The hospital janitorial staff just went to the wall and wiped away the blood.

At 8:30 p.m., a nurse found that Wang had stopped making noise and notified the doctor, who checked him and found that he was dead.

When asked to comment on Wang's death, and whether it resulted from lack of treatment, the director of the emergency department of Tongren Hospital said, “It is not necessary for the hospital to pay for the patient if he or she is not diagnosed as in immediate danger. The hospital cannot afford to pay for every single patient.”