Practicing medicine in China has become an even more high-risk business. In ten days in October, China reported at least six attacks on healthcare workers. In the most recent case, a man, unhappy with the results of an operation, fatally stabbed a doctor and wounded two others in a hospital of Zhejiang province. Rising violence against healthcare workers has not only discouraged doctors in China from adopting using medically necessary but risky procedures, but also—in conjunction with the problem of doctors’ low base salaries—provided strong disincentives for practicing medicine in China. According to a survey carried out by the Chinese Hospital Association (CHA), 29 percent of the healthcare workers prefer self-protecting medical procedures, 40 percent are considering changing professions, and 78 percent do not want their children to become a healthcare professional in the future.
Violence against healthcare staff is not new in China; it has been a topic of media concern since the early 1990s. Neither is China the only country experiencing violence against doctors. A 2012 International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) report found that in almost all the 22 countries studied, health services were affected by actual and threatened violence, and eight countries recorded 40 or more incidents. The ICRC report documented a total of 921 incidents of violence that affected healthcare services and 1,840 total acts or threats of violence, which means that each incident involves an average of two acts or threats of violence.