Why does the media always become a [messing stick] for doctor-patient conflicts?

Editor’s Note:

When you mention the phrase [media and doctor-patient relationship], will your nerves tighten? Will there be a bad feeling that another big event will happen? Which of the following nouns will you think of?

Losing renal hilum, gauze hilum, amniotic fluid embolism, eight hair hilum, suture anus…

All of the above are events that have aroused great attention in the Chinese media and medical circles in recent years. In recent years, the media has assumed the role of what in such incidents? Has it caused what’s influence?

Clove Garden (Micro Signal: Dingxiangwang), in conjunction with the Social Media Research Center of the New Media Research Institute of Peking University, has combed and analyzed such incidents in recent years.

Recently, the General Office of the State Administration of Press, Publication, Radio, Film and Television released a circular on the investigation and punishment of six media outlets, including Xin’an Evening News, for publishing false and untrue reports.

I don’t know if you still have the impression that the incident of “losing the kidney gate” came from one of the two reports that the “Xin’an Evening News” was punished. However, before [losing the kidney gate], many doctor-patient conflicts [gates] caused by media participation had already occurred one after another.

2010 Shenzhen [Suture Anus]

In July 2010, a pregnant woman gave birth to a baby boy in Shenzhen Phoenix Hospital. However, shortly afterwards, her husband Chen Mou found that his anus had been sewn with a thread. He suspected that the midwife could not retaliate for asking for a red envelope and reported it to the media.

Later, reports such as [the anus of the lying-in woman was sutured] and [the midwife asked for red envelopes] caused quite a stir and became [Rashomon] in more media reports and protracted discussions.

Two years later, CCTV < < News Investigation > > paid a return visit to all parties involved in the incident and showed that the incident was generally close to the real appearance: the so-called [anus of the lying-in woman was sewn] and red envelopes did not exist, and the midwife’s [sewing and hemostasis] operation only dealt with hemorrhoids.

The media confuse [completely closing the anus] with [suturing (or ligating) anal hemorrhoids bleeding points], which is the result of lack of medical knowledge and incomplete verification.

[Suture anus] The impact on all parties involved is huge: there are reports that the parturient is suspected to suffer from depression afterwards, while the husband can no longer work to take care of his wife and children; Midwife Zhang Jirong was under pressure from public opinion and lost her job. Since then, she has been living in poverty. Shenzhen Phoenix Hospital’s reputation-damaged patients dropped sharply and were forced to suspend its operations.

In January 2011, midwife Zhang Jirong sued maternal husband Chen Mou. The court ruled that Chen Mou published an apology statement in the media and compensated the midwife 30,000 yuan for emotional damages [1].

Shenzhen [Bamaomen] in 2011

On September 7, 2011, the media, including Shenzhen News Network, revealed the news that [Shenzhen asked for more than 10,000 yuan for abdominal distension and Guangzhou prescribed 80 cents for medicine]: babies born only 6 days ago could not defecate normally, and Shenzhen Children’s Hospital suggested fistulostomy, with a total cost of 100,000 yuan; However, Mr. Chen, the father of the baby who studied medicine, refused the operation and only opened 0.8 yuan’s paraffin oil in another hospital, thus relieving the child’s symptoms.

The huge contrast between the 100,000 yuan operation fee and 0.8 yuan caused public opinion to fall to the ground and criticize the “medical shady scene”. As a result, the “Bamaomen” incident lasted for 45 days, and Shenzhen Children’s Hospital was pushed into nationwide public opinion denunciation.

Later, the child was taken to Wuhan Tongji Hospital for another diagnosis and got the same result: Hirschsprung’s disease. The child was later admitted to hospital for surgery. The actual operation cost was about 20,000 yuan, while the so-called 100,000 yuan operation cost was only a unilateral [estimate] of the parents. Finally, the father of the child wrote a handwritten apology letter and a thank-you letter to apologize to Shenzhen Children’s Hospital.

Quanzhou [Roasted Baby Gate] in 2013

In July 2013, A 12-day-old baby was found dead in a incubator at Quanzhou Children’s Hospital in Fujian Province. Photographs of the baby’s blackened body were circulated on the Internet, causing great concern. Family members questioned whether the child was roasted alive due to [too high a temperature] in the hospital’s incubator and said the hospital’s surveillance video had been deleted-the hospital explained that [the hard disk may be full].

However, the identification by the quality inspection department shows that all indexes of the incubator meet the standards. The real cause of death of the child is staphylococcus skin scald-like syndrome, which is an infection death.

Amniotic Fluid Embolism of Maternal in Xiangtan, Hunan Province in 2014

On 10 August 2014, Zhang, a 27-year-old parturient, underwent cesarean section in Xiangtan County Maternal and Child Health Hospital. After the operation, the parturient suffered massive hemorrhage. Although after more than 9 hours of rescue, the parturient still died on the operating table. The grieving family members broke into the operating room under the urgent situation and saw the dead lying naked on the operating table, without breathing. The doctors and nurses who should have been rescued were [all missing].

The incident was first revealed by Huasheng Online, with the title [Hunan a lying-in woman died on the operating table and all the attending doctors and nurses were missing]. The [bizarre] plot immediately triggered great discussions on platforms such as Weibo and WeChat, and also attracted a lot of follow-up attention.

A month later, the authoritative organization identified that the cause of maternal death was systemic multiple organ failure caused by pulmonary amniotic fluid embolism, and the incident did not constitute a medical accident. But at the same time, the investigation team also pointed out that the information communication between the traditional Chinese medicine prescription and the patient’s family members was not sufficient and effective, causing dissatisfaction and doubts from the patient’s family members.

This matter eventually became a popular science event caused by disputes. Many medical experts wrote articles explaining that the incidence rate of amniotic fluid embolism is only between 4/100,000 and 6/100,000, but the mortality rate is as high as 60% ~ 80%, which is unexpected when the onset occurs, almost impossible to predict and prevent, and extremely difficult to treat.

Xuzhou in 2016 [Dieshen Hilum]

On May 5, a report published by Xin’an Evening News said that a man in Xuzhou had undergone thoracic surgery in a hospital and found his right kidney [missing] the day after discharge. However, the hospital involved and the local health department had not yet found the results of the investigation.

As soon as the report came out, it immediately attracted attention from all sides. The patient’s attending doctor and hospital were under great pressure. However, subsequent official investigations showed that the man’s right kidney was not [lost], but traumatic displacement, deformation and atrophy.

The reporter’s fault lies in the inaccurate expression, describing the medical term right kidney [missing] as right kidney [missing], but not thoroughly investigating the cause of [missing] and not balancing the statement of the patient and the hospital.

2016 Weifang, Shandong [Gauze Gate]

The recent “Gauze Gate” incident in Weifang, Shandong Province even attracted the attention of CCTV’s “News Survey” [2]. The aftermath of the incident has just subsided. I believe everyone remembers it vividly, so we will not elaborate on it.

Why does the media always have to be a [spoiler]?

In the numerous above-mentioned incidents, the media (whether traditional media or network media) almost all act as [contradictory amplifiers].

The doctor-patient conflict was brought to the public eye, but it ended with an apology because the reported hard injuries had an irreversible impact on all parties involved.

Such [farce] is already a chronic disease in China.

The famous international medical journal “The Lancet” published “Chinese Doctors: Survival under Threat > > analyzes the situation of Chinese doctors, believing that the distorted reports of doctors in the Chinese media have exacerbated the tension between doctors and patients-and we have seen that all the events listed in this article occurred after 2010, that is to say, this situation is still repeating itself.

Then why does the media always make endless mistakes? Is it subjective malice or does it not change after repeated education?

Or, why can’t the media not be involved?

The Coming of Media: Information Asymmetry between Doctors and Patients

Medicine has its uncertainties-this is the consensus we can reach at present.

One of the manifestations of uncertainty is that the treatment of many diseases depends on the subjective judgment of doctors. As a living person, doctors are also facing living patients. Even if it is the same disease, the etiology and performance may vary greatly, so there is no 100% standard diagnosis process.

Doctors often encounter unexpected situations-especially when encountering difficult and complicated diseases.

In those critical and time-racing occasions, the life and death of patients depend entirely on the judgment of doctors, which requires them to make prompt decisions and sometimes even take some risks.

The blind stitch in the [gauze door] is such an adventure-but without such an adventure, the uterus of the parturient may have to be removed.

The problem is that the decisions made by doctors in many cramped time and space cannot be clearly explained to patients and their families-sometimes because doctors are too busy, sometimes because the high threshold of medical knowledge makes patients unable to understand at all.

Therefore, in many cases, patients are suddenly thrown with a result-a major result that is often of vital importance to life and death-when they fail to understand the context of the doctor’s decision, just as relatives of pregnant women in Xiangtan, Hunan, rushed into the operating room to see the scene.

The emotional impact at this time can be imagined. This is the risk brought by the high degree of information inequality in the field of modern medicine.

Under normal circumstances, doctors represent professional authority and are in an obvious dominant position in the doctor-patient relationship, while patients belong to the [weak information]. When conflicts occur, patients have to [compete] with medical institutions as [authoritative] and [strong]-this great sense of pressure often urges them to call for media support.

Therefore, we can see that from [losing renal hilum] to [suturing anus]-almost all the cases mentioned above are caused by patients’ active disclosure to the media.

The Responsibility of Media: Balancing Social Emotions

The news industry was born with the modern newspaper industry, and then gradually developed its professional attribute of representing public interests.

The mass media often pretend to be “social public goods” and take balancing social emotions and helping the weak as their mission-even once called the “fourth power” besides legislation, administration and justice in the United States.

Although journalism values such as “iron shoulders and morality” now sound idealistic, But for journalists, the [sense of mission] always exists. So when faced with public help, professional instinct will still guide them to the side they think is weaker. This is why we can often feel strong tendency and suspicion in these reports of doctor-patient conflicts.

Of course, this kind of bias and suspicion is probably wrong, so it needs to be balanced by news ethics and professionalism-which is often the weakness of Chinese journalists and will be mentioned again later.

Media Pressure: Robbing News

Of course, since the age of mass journalism, In addition to social responsibility, The media also pursue many other things, Of course, the most important of these is profits-this requires doing everything possible to attract public attention and sell advertisements. And an important way to attract public attention, It is to report the news first-at least not too backward. In the past, when the new media were not so developed, the news media had to compete with each other, and the same news was punished if it was reported slower or omitted than its peers.

The author once worked in the news department of a local TV station for three years. I have also deeply experienced this kind of pressure: After the sudden incident, People on the scene often call the hotlines of TV stations and local evening newspapers, morning papers and radio stations at the same time-then it depends on who runs faster. If a reporter from a more sensational news TV station slows down by half a beat, Or if the clues are reported by the newspaper first, the news department will be punished. In the Internet era, the news media have to compete not only with each other, but also with the online media and the We Media-this is almost an impossible war in terms of speed, but they still have to grind their teeth to keep up with it because there is pressure to survive.

There is no private media in our country, but since the transition to marketization in the 1980s, most media have been separated from financial support and have to be responsible for their own profits and losses. The pressure of survival has always existed. In contrast, the party media with financial support are relatively calm.

This is why in the above-mentioned various [doors], most of the mistakes are made by market-oriented media or online media, and the final clarification is always made by official party media such as CCTV and People’s Daily-because they are not short of money.

Specific to the situation of doctor-patient conflict-sometimes the patient calls the hotline, and various media swarm in, such as [Bamaomen]; Sometimes patients first post on online media, such as forums and microblogs, forcing the media to report quickly after arousing attention, such as [baking baby gate].

In these situations, the media have to act in a hurry-the whole nation can’t know what happened and see the photos. The local media haven’t moved yet, have they? Therefore, we can probably understand why sometimes the media report conflicts between doctors and patients, why they always do not do sufficient factual verification, and sometimes they even panic so much that they do not even want [moral integrity]-they really don’t have much time.

It should be pointed out that this pressure of publishing is universal and is not only concentrated in the field of doctor-patient conflicts.

In March last year, the false news of Singapore Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew’s death came out. The national media pushed it to the headlines in less than 20 minutes. Some even quickly released special websites, and some even frantically labeled Lee Kuan Yew Lee Hsien Loong. When the news was verified to be false, they swarmed to delete posts and apologize.

The news industry does have professional ethics and professional requirements. The requirements of objectivity, balance, neutrality and adoption of multiple sources are well known to every news student in school. However, under the pressure of survival and in the distorted information environment, [better wrong than slow] gradually overshadowed others and became the helpless reality of the whole industry.

Of course, this kind of disregard for integrity [panic and no choice] may also be due to the low cost of making mistakes and the light punishment-its root lies in media ownership, which is inconvenient to carry out here.

Media Hobbies: Dramatic Conflicts

Events full of dramatic conflicts are the natural [nourishment] pursued by the media for the same reason as [rush]: the media need to compete for public attention.

Therefore, we can find that all the major doctor-patient conflicts mentioned in this article have some common characteristics: most of them involve [difficult and complicated diseases] unheard of by ordinary people, such as amniotic fluid embolism, Hirschsprung’s disease and staphylococcal skin scald-like syndrome; Almost every case contains dramatic scenes, such as kidney loss, roasting to death of babies, 80 cents to 100,000, naked death of parturients on the operating table, sewing of anus…

In other words, the [gimmick] of these events is too strong for the media not to be involved.

In contrast, diseases that take years, have a lot of influence, really need public attention but lack dramatic conflicts, such as pneumoconiosis and tuberculosis, are often neglected-this is probably a paradox that cannot be solved until the media breaks away from the profit-making model of selling attention.

The media is not the enemy of doctors.

As mentioned earlier, omissions in news reports and lack of journalists’ medical and professional qualities often bring irreversible harm to both doctors and patients, including the media itself. The medical profession has accumulated deep resentment and even is full of anger at the entire news industry.

Therefore, we try to explain from the two aspects of information processing and the current situation of the industry why the media always push themselves into the embarrassing situation between doctors and patients.

Of course, not all media will fall into this inferior cycle of robbing, making mistakes and apologizing. Just as the doctor-patient conflict is not only the conflict between the two groups of doctors and patients, or the conflict between the three groups of media, doctors and patients-it often reflects the complex social reality and the long-standing system ills.

There is no denying that, In the process of empowering the information vulnerable parties, following up reports, gradually restoring the facts and promoting the orderly handling of the incident according to law, It still plays an important role. At least for now, the information gap between doctors and patients still exists-they need information mediators, porters and translators-and we have not seen any better substitutes than the media.

Therefore, the next effort may be to improve the medical literacy, professionalism and professional ethics of media personnel. Now many journalism schools of top universities have established cooperative training programs with medical schools to train more professional and appropriate health journalists, which may alleviate this problem.

In short, we don’t want to see any more hostility, hatred, malice and [three defeats]. The relationship between doctors, patients and the media can be reconciled and win-win-it may require more understanding, self-discipline, supervision and even harsher punishment, but really, no one is born to be whose enemy.

Copyright of Clove Garden. No reprinting is allowed without permission.

Author: Chen Qiuxin and Sun Yumiao