Tuesday, December 31, 2019

Another Life Lost; Enough

Beijing Dr Wen YANG’s death is another reminder of the healthcare violence global epidemic. Going forward, we ought to take action.

Guest post by Dr. Li Li, MD, MBA
Global Medical Lead, Cardiovascular, Bayer AG, Berlin, Germany

Dr. Wen YANG was a 51-year-old ER physician, a mother, a wife, a daughter, working in Beijing Civil Aviation Hospital. On 24th, December 2019, Tuesday, one week earlier, she lost her life. That day was Christmas Eve. 

Dr. Yang was stabbed by a patient’s relative at her night shift, suffered from serious wounds to her neck, no breaths or heartbeats at the scene. The tragedy was recorded by the surveillance camera, a few seconds of murder was terribly brutal and cruel.

As a human, I was shocked by what I saw from the footage, just as most of us were. Dr. Yang was a caring, young woman, she had the nerve to apply her 27 years’ medicine knowledge to patients. Her death is another tragic reminder that there have been increasing reports, yet still underreported, of verbal, physical and psychological violence happening in the past years, not just in China, but worldwide.

The doctors, nurses and the staff work in health care are trained to take care of the ill, the injured and the people who come for help...the health care workers do not agree to be attacked, insulted, or murdered. 

Working in the health care profession is not easy; to treat and to care for patients is very challenging, it takes a life-long commitment. The medicine does not always work, some diseases so far are still not curable, a group of patients sadly has to face death no matter how hard they have fought. 

We all know the reasons causing healthcare violence epidemic are not straightforward, combating the violence goes a long way ahead, same in America. One piece of advice shared by Sheila Wilson, President of Stop-Healthcare-Violence in one of her publications, “combating Healthcare workplace violence,” she wrote, “it is my belief that underreporting is due to healthcare worker misconception of workplace violence.” (1)

Some healthcare workers get used to the verbal abuse or mild physical attacks, seeing them as part of their daily work, they felt upset or angry when the attacks happened. But the victims did not deem it necessary or important to file an incident report, or perhaps no one or no channel in the workplaces available was to assist those victims. On the other hand, the phenomenon of healthcare violence epidemic, if released to the general public, seems to undermine the image of the hospitals. (2) 

Sheila suggested, “With an advocate in place, there would be a non-administrative point-person designated to check in with the victim frequently, communicate with staff, conduct ongoing education and outreach, and foster a sense of security and right to safety for healthcare workers.” Then the first fundamental step is to ensure healthcare workers clearly being aware of the process of the incidence reporting, and the risk management system should be in place.

The doctors, nurses and the staff work in health care are trained to take care of the ill, the injured and the people who come for help. Sometimes they enjoy the extraordinary, wonderful moments when they witness their patients getting recovered. They are proud of themselves and their endeavors. The public media also extolls the pleasures of the medical achievement and disease cure by humans.

However not always it is perfect, and very uncommon for the general public to listen to health care workers complaining, about their frustration, tiredness, depression. Remember please, the health care workers do not agree to be attacked, insulted, or murdered. 

Another life was lost when she was taking care of others. Violence again wins. 

1. Wilson S. Combating Healthcare Workplace Violence. 
Available from bestnursingdegree.com 

2. Arnetz JE, Hamblin L, Ager J, et al. Work, 2015, 51(1): 51-9. 
Available from ncbi.nlm.nih.gov

About the Author

Dr. Li Li
Dr Li Li graduated from Peking University with MD degree in 2004, worked in Peking University Third Hospital, Beijing, China as a licensed Gynaecologist for 6 years.  Then she received MBA degree from the Chinese University of Hong Kong. Since 2012, she has been working in the global headquarter of Bayer AG. She has published about 10 papers in the scientific journals and several posters in the international congresses.

Dr Li Li has an interest in enhancing the medical communication & education across countries, and a passion of supporting the activities to improve people’s health & wellbeing worldwide.

Dr. Li Li may be reached by email at li.li9@bayer.com or wannalof@gmail.com.