In the spring of 2010, Human Rights in China launched Citizens’ Square, an online forum where Chinese rights defenders, petitioners, and others can post open letters, statements, court and other official documents, and photographs to publicize their stories.
The first item to appear on Citizens’ Square, on April 6, 2010, is the following open letter by 27 families in Henan. They alleged that gross misconduct and outright fraud at the People’s Liberation Army Hospital No. 152 caused the deaths and serious injuries of their family members and presented summaries of how they died and became disabled.
The cases are disturbing: A 29-year-old man died after being hospitalized for a single day for gastritis; a 15-year-old child became mentally disabled after treatment for a broken leg; a 62-year-old woman died after being treated for lower back pain. Others were told they had cancer or other serious diseases requiring thousands of yuan in medical costs, when in fact their ailments were minor or nonexistent. Later, it became clear to the families that the hospital routinely subjected patients to unnecessary tests and treatments and used fake or expensive, inappropriate drugs just to make money. And many “doctors” in the hospital in fact did not have licenses.
A few families received compensation from the hospital, however, many did not. Their court cases dragged on for years and other families were simply too poor to pursue litigation. The 27 families hoped that the open letter would help focus international media attention on their grievances and prompt the authorities to investigate and prosecute those responsible.
After the posting of the open letter, overseas media outlets, including Voice of America and Radio Free Asia, covered the story. They interviewed Mrs. Xue Qiuxiang, who for more than three years after her son’s death has been bounced around between municipal and provincial authorities, and from public security bureaus to people’s procuratorates and courts. But all the reporting was blocked inside China, and there was no reaction from the local authorities. On August 1, 2010, Mrs. Xue went to Beijing to petition at the Central Military Commission. The Commission told her to go back to her local authorities. On the same day, she was stopped outside of Tiananmen Square, and was detained in a “black jail” and then taken back to Henan the next day. Undeterred, she continued petitioning the local authorities. On October 21, 2010, the local public security bureau finally issued a notice that the hospital should be investigated, but by the military. By late November, the military has not responded to her requests.
This open letter provides an insight into not only the persistence of these families to seek redress, but also into efforts to organize and present these problems collectively.
An Open Letter to the Media from 27 Families in Henan:
The Cry of Many Victims:
Lives are at Stake, We Appeal for Your Concern, Save Us!
April 6, 2010
[Translation by Human Rights in China]
The People’s Liberation Army (PLA) No. 152 Central Hospital in Pingdingshan City, Henan Province, is taking advantage of the illustrious image the PLA has in the hearts and minds of the people – of the special and unfailing trust that most common folks place in army hospitals, of the peculiar fact that the media may only report on the army’s bright side and not expose a trace of its dark side, and of China’s policy of special protection of the army – to play the game of masquerading as Buddha while secretly laughing and murdering people for profit.
Guo Haoshuai [郭豪帅], son of Ms. Xue Qiuxiang [薛秋香] from Xinhua District in Pingdingshan City, was 24 years old and had graduated from college when he went to this hospital to see a doctor on account of a mild cold and slight anemia on September 24, 2006. He was admitted to the geriatric ward, where he, oddly, died on October 27, 2006. His family spent more than 100,000 yuan [around $15,000] for this, and even donated his remains. At the end of 2006，the family requested copies of his medical records from the hospital in order to find out the cause of his death. The hospital first stalled and gave excuses and later only provided limited information from which the family discovered that the hospital admission record was completely inconsistent with the facts. This aroused the suspicion of the family members and they later gradually found out not only that the hospital falsified the medical record but that, when cross-referenced with the records of fees collected, 125 entries in the medical record were missing. During the 34 days of hospitalization, Zhao Xiaoyong [赵小永] and others, who had no understanding of medicine, administered fake and inferior drugs and more than 70 types of inappropriate new expensive medications, and frantically conducted hundreds of unnecessary, painful examinations in order to earn large amounts of bonuses and kickbacks. Military doctor Zhao Xiaoyong, Guo Haoshuai’s attending physician, did not even have a license to practice medicine. More than 30 other doctors and nurses who showed up in the medical record have not been able to provide proof of their relevant credentials so far either. What is even more absurd is that none of the doctor’s orders in the No. 152 Hospital’s medical records were signed by any of the hospital’s medical staff – something that probably no medical law in the world would allow. This is just one such case that we know of at the present time. (For other cases, please see below.)
This army hospital lives on funding and salaries paid by the government on the one hand, while it recklessly hires outside local staff (approximately 80% of the total number) without any credentials to practice medicine on the other, passing them off as physicians and using them as a cheap labor force to profiteer and stuff its pockets. It also illegally produces injectable high-grade antibiotics [without approval from proper authorities] and many other fake and inferior drugs (which the Pharmaceutical Administration Law clearly stipulates hospitals are not allowed to produce) to induce disease or aggravate the condition of its patients and thereby achieve its profit-making objectives.
The many fraudulent doctors without real qualifications that fill the hospital’s ranks often make arbitrary, subjective, speculative decisions: tricking and scaring people by telling those who are healthy that they are sick, claiming that a minor ailment is a major illness and that an inflammation is a cancer are commonplace. In any case, the patient has no medical skills, and it is often the case that the wealthier the patient is, the more medications and examinations are prescribed, which in turn causes the patient to develop more illnesses.
Countless individuals have been killed or disabled because of the fraudulent doctors, fake drugs, reckless examinations and excessive treatments at this hospital. Simply put, the danger created by doctors is greater than that by tigers! They are probably a hundred times more lethal than traffic accidents! Yet neither the local health bureau nor the food and drug administration nor the public security bureau has the capacity to deal with this problem! Even the courts have been trying hard to circle the issue, only daring to reluctantly award a little bit of compensation to plaintiffs in civil cases where definite and especially glaring errors in medical treatment were committed. When the facts are clear and there is conclusive evidence of criminal offense in the loss of human life caused by fraudulent doctors or fake drugs, the relevant authorities do not dare investigate the criminal responsibility. Relatives of the victims have been running back and forth between various levels of local administration and the army to lodge their complaints, only to be kicked around like a ball as the two sides pass the buck to each other, shirking responsibility, or playing deaf and dumb, refusing to handle their cases.
Among the complaints, there is the homicide case pursued by a couple in their seventies, whose 29-year-old son died after being treated for a stomachache one night by a nurse on temporary contract, hired by this hospital to serve as the night-shift attending physician. This couple has been running back and forth trying to lodge a complaint for the past 13 years with absolutely no results. There are also many victims from remote villages who simply do not have the capability, financial resources and energy to demand justice. Even if they could, it would be extremely difficult to win a lawsuit, so the majority can only swallow their complaints in silence and count themselves unlucky. Given the fact that relevant local institutions are unable to investigate the criminal responsibility of deaths caused by the local phony doctors employed through outsourcing by this army hospital, one can only imagine how much more powerless they are when it comes to deaths caused by army doctors themselves. There are reportedly several hundred army hospitals in the country. If they all operate in a similar legal vacuum, how terrifying the number of man-made casualties – deaths and disabilities – must be!
We don’t know how long this game of homicide in disguise will continue, much less how much time will pass before these fraudulent doctors who kill for profit will receive legal sanction. Can these Chinese army hospitals simply act without the slightest scruples in complete disregard for human life? Is the army really more powerful than the law, mightier than Heaven? Are human lives that expendable just because China has the largest population? We are desperately crying out in pain: To the media organizations, human rights groups, health organizations and all other relevant institutions of the world – please, extend a helping hand to save our people! We eagerly hope for your righteous and compassionate concern so as to put an end to the lethal, illegal medical malpractice of black wolves dressed in white coats, so as to save lives and punish the criminals.
Xue Qiuxiang (薛秋香)
Representative of the blood and tears complaints of the many victims’ families united in weeping
Resident of Pingdingshan, Henan Province, People’s Republic of China
For more than ten years, those who have died or become disabled after being treated for minor ailments by this hospital can be found everywhere:
1. Mr. Shi [石], a 29-year-old male from Jiandong Subdistrict of our city [Pingdingshan City, Henan Province], died after being hospitalized for a single day for gastritis. Shi’s parents are in the midst of litigation against the hospital for using a nurse hired under temporary contract to act as an attending physician. The litigation has gone on for 13 years without a result.
2. Guo Haoshuai, a 24-year-old college graduate and son of Ms. Xue Qiuxiang from Xinhua District in Pingdingshan City, was treated for only a mild cold and slight anemia when he died from treatment by fraudulent doctors, fake drugs, and other abominable measures. His family spent more than 100,000 yuan [around $15,000], and even donated his body. It has been over three years since his death, but the family has received only a meager compensation through a settlement of a civil case; no place has yet dealt with the criminal responsibility of the staff members.
3. Miss Wang [王], a university student from the Pingdingshan metropolitan area, suffered a “level 7 disability” as a result of surgery to remove a cyst from her lungs, performed in 2003. (Litigation is ongoing.)
4. Li [李], 15 years old, from Lushan County, Pingdingshan City, became mentally retarded after treatment for a broken leg just before Spring Festival in 2005. (Litigation is ongoing.)
5. Ms. Liu [刘] (approximately 50 years old) from the Western District of Pingdingshan City almost lost her life when her ureter was cut and damaged during uterine surgery. Although she survived thanks to rescue efforts, she has been unable to urinate on her own to this day, suffering a “level 4 disability”. (Litigation is ongoing.)
6. Ms. Chen’s [陈] mother (aged 62) from the Pingdingshan metropolitan area died after treatment for a common lower back pain. (Litigation is ongoing.)
7. Ms. Liang [梁] of Shuguang Street, Pingdingshan metropolitan area, became hemiplegic after being treated for a minor heart ailment. (Litigation has been going on for four years, but there has been no ruling from the trial of first instance). Ms. Liang’s contact number is 13271438714.
8. A middle-school teacher from Shuizhai Township, Ye County, Pingdingshan City, died from unlawful practice. (The law suit was brought in 2007, and it is in the process of litigation.)
9. Mr. Liu [刘], a young man also from Shuizhai Township, Ye County, was told by the No. 152 Hospital about 10 years ago that his diarrhea was intestinal cancer. After spending all his money and nearly dying from the treatment, Mr. Liu had no choice but to leave the hospital to wait for death at home, only to bounce back to health. He is still out doing manual labor today.
10. Mr. Gao [高] (aged 29), from the same township as the abovementioned Mr. Liu, was unable to escape the misfortune of dying from the treatment of a nosebleed. At the moment, his family is not currently reachable.
11. The mother of Mr. Liu [刘] from the Pingdingshan metropolitan area died after being hospitalized and receiving treatment for six days. (The law suit was brought in 2009 and the trial of the first instance is currently in progress.)
12. A three-year-old child from Yingqiao Township in Xiangcheng County, Xuchang City, died from a minor upper cleft palate (harelip) surgery. (A five-figure yuan sum in compensation was paid following mediation.)
13. Also from Chengqiao Village, Xiangcheng County, Xuchang City, Mr. Cheng [程] (a 40-year-old robust laborer) died in May 2008 after his esophagus was cut during surgery on his cervical vertebrae. The hospital returned the roughly twenty thousand yuan (around $3,000) the Cheng family had paid in medical fees after having the family members sign an agreement that they would not seek further investigation of responsibility, and considered the matter settled.
14. Ms. Bai [白], wife of Mr. Sha [沙], an old man of the Hui minority, from Jiaodian Township, Pingdingshan City, suffered from hyperthyroidism and should not have been subjected to nonionic iodinated contrast cardiac imaging. She died of chemical poisoning [after the imaging procedure]. (The case was privately settled out of court, with a five-figure yuan sum in compensation.)
15. The above-mentioned Mr. Sha provided another case of a five-year-old boy from Sanlangmiao Township in Pingdingshan City, who died a few hours after a carelessly done transfusion. (The case was also privately settled with compensation, and the hospital should have records of it.)
16. The 38-year-old Mr. Sun [孙], younger brother of Ms. Sun [孙] who works at the Hospital of Traditional Chinese Medicine in Pindingshan City, was told that his hepatitis was liver cancer and he died as a result of the treatment. The sister has been negotiating with the hospital for approximately ten years, but has not received a single penny in compensation. Because of this, the father of the deceased has also departed to the other world, and his wife has remarried; you could say that the home is in ruins, with the family broken up and decimated. In addition, Ms. Sun has come down with many illnesses as a result of her unsuccessful quest for justice on her brother’s behalf.
17. The young wife of Mr. Wang [王] from Zhangji Village, Hongzhuangyang Township, Ye County, Pingdingshan City, fell from a motorcycle right after the Spring Festival in 2008 and was sent to this hospital, where she died under very unclear circumstances. The husband of the deceased is fully aware of the questions surrounding the strange death of his wife, but does not have the wherewithal to pursue litigation.
18. The wife of Mr. Qu [屈] (over 40 years old), a resident of Hanfeng Village, Chengguan Township in Ye County, Pingdingshan City, was admitted to the hospital for the treatment of flesh wounds on her leg (the bones were not injured) sustained from a small tractor. Not only was her injury not cured, but after she spent a lot of money her leg developed necrosis. After she learned of the shady dealings in the hospital, she insisted on transferring to a different hospital where the treatment saved her leg. She has not made a full recovery to this day, and her husband, Mr. Qu, is wretchedly poor.
19. The daughter of Mr. Lian [练] and Ms. Bai [白] from Hukou Village, which lies in the vicinity of the Fragrant Hill Temple’s eastern Dragon Gate in Baofeng County, Pingdingshan City, was five or six years old when she died from treatment for her cold and fever. Mr. Lian and Ms. Bai spent tens of thousands of yuan, and are deeply convinced that there was something fishy about the death of their little daughter, but lack the ability to run around to negotiate, so they are extremely depressed and angry.
20. Ms. Zhang [张] from Yuanling in Wugang City, Henan Province, was just over 30 when she went to this hospital for a colonoscopy in July 2009 and died. Ms. Zhang’s husband and family are utterly grief-stricken. They know full well that the fault lies entirely with the hospital, but they are unable to get around its reign of terror, and her life was lost for nothing.
21. Mr. Zhang’s [张] 19-year-old son from Yankou Village in Zhiyang Towship, Xinhua District of Pingdingshan City, broke his arms and legs on the job and died in treatment. His father is furious and can be contacted on his mobile phone at 15333758353 or at home at 0375-2052860.
22. The beautiful young daughter of Ms. Huang [黄], who is employed by the Railway Transport Department of the Pingdingshan Coal (Group) Co., Ltd. in Pingdingshan City, died during treatment under very unclear circumstances. Her mother cannot bear the pain and emotional torment of an endless lawsuit, so she has been forced to suffer in silence.
23. Mr. Zhao [赵], a young and robust man from Xinzhuangzhao Village in Wanjin Township, the south-eastern Shaoling District of Luohe City, Henan Province, was employed as a manual laborer at the No. 66 Salt Prefabricated Construction Board Factory in Pingdingshan City. Due to a cold, he went to the nearby community out-patient clinic established by the No. 152 Hospital in Hongying Subdistrict, where he died after a single injection. (Compensation paid upon settlement out of court.)
24. The 9-month-old son of a young man named Li Changzhi [李长志] from Chengxi Village, Xinji township, Lushan County of Pingdingshan City, died on the hospital's operating table because of bacterial tracheitis and other issues in December 2009. (A law suit has already been brought.)
25. The younger sister (adult) of Mr. Ye [叶] who lives in the same village as Li Changzhi cited above (Chengxi Village, Xinji Township, Lushan County of Pingdingshan city) is in a vegetative state after a brain tumor surgery in the No.152 Hospital in 2008. The No.152 Hospital has already paid some money in compensation. However, a large sum for follow-up treatment and care has not been paid yet.
26. The son of a Pingdingshan City resident, Mr. Cui [崔], was diagnosed by No. 152 Hospital as having myocarditis and was treated at the pediatric ward where he stayed for over 20 days, costing the family quite a bit of money. His condition kept getting worse as the treatment progressed. As he appeared to be on the brink of death, his father grabbed him and rushed him to the Zhengzhou Children’s Hospital, which, upon examining him, said that the boy was not suffering from myocarditis at all. The boy was cured in three days.
27. The niece of a staff at the Epidemic Prevention Station in Pingdingshan City also only had a cold and a fever but was told that it was a serious case of encephalitis and that she had to be admitted to the intensive care unit! The child’s mother was so scared that she began to weep, being at a complete loss. But the aunt, precisely because she worked at the Epidemic Prevention Station, knew what the level of the staff at No. 152 Hospital was and persuaded the child’s parents to immediately send her to the Pingmei Central Hospital for check-up and treatment. As a result, the child was cured with a small amount of a mild medication.
The children in the last two examples were extremely lucky in their misfortune, because they transferred to a different hospital in the nick of time and thus managed to avoid death. But how many children and adults like them were unable to escape the calamity of death and have had their lives snatched away by the actions of humans who, moreover, are still continuing to take more lives!
The victims from the 27 families listed above are but the tip of the iceberg of the numerous people whose deaths were caused by No. 152 Hospital over the past ten and some years. The spirits of countless numbers of those who died unjustly have vanished without a trace. But if some media outlet or a medical authority dares to make a concerted effort and conduct an investigative study, to systematically count and verify all the people who died at this hospital, they will probably find that eight to nine out of every ten deaths are abnormal. Who knows how many local folks have been harmed by the fraudulent doctors, fake drugs and other illegal medical treatments at this hospital! Also, who knows how many judges, independent investigators, victims and their families have been tricked by fake medical records forged after the fact. This “triple fraud” hospital that murders without spilling blood still continues to harm people in its highfalutin ways, and our fellow countrymen are still, just as before, delivering their money and their lives one after another! Heavens! When will this end! Even if there is a huge population in China, one could not trample on human life like this! It is better to save one person’s life that to build a seven-storied pagoda! We eagerly hope for the urgent concern of the brave and the kindhearted in order to save people from being deceived and losing their lives in the future!