A doctor in northern China has been suspended pending an investigation into allegations he was posing for photographs for a hospital brochure while one of his elderly patients was in need of emergency medical care.

The patient, 84-year-old Kang Jinlian, died at Wenshui County People’s Hospital in Shanxi province on July 15, after being admitted at about 9pm the night before suffering from nausea, according to a report by Shanxi Radio Television.

After an initial assessment, Kang was transferred to the intensive care unit of the cardiology department, it said.

In a separate report by Pearvideo.com, Kang’s grandson, Wu, said that as the family was waiting for the doctor to check on her condition, all of the medical staff left the ward and went to another area of the hospital where a photographer was taking pictures for a brochure.

The woman’s grandson said the doctors and nurses left the intensive care unit to pose for photographs for a promotional brochure.
Photo: Pearvideo.com

While the doctor was away, Kang’s pain intensified and her condition worsened, news website China Economic Net reported.

Wu was quoted as saying that over a 20-minute period he and his family tried four times to get a doctor to look at his grandmother but without success. The report said that Kang died the following morning, though did not elaborate.

In a statement issued on social media on Tuesday, the health authority in Shanxi expressed its condolences to the family for Kang’s death and shock at the apparent way in which the situation had been handled.

It said it had “zero tolerance” for unethical behaviour, and that a doctor from the hospital in Wenshui had been suspended pending a full investigation. Once completed, the results of the inquiry would be made public, it said.

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Neither the hospital nor the health authority was prepared to comment further on the matter.

This article was first published in South China Morning Post.

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