China forbids linking doctors’ incomes, medical expenses

The Chinese government on Wednesday released a guideline on its basic medicine system that forbids hospitals from linking doctors’ incomes with their patients’ medicine and medical exam expenses.

Some hospitals link doctors’ pay with revenues earned through medication sales and exam fees, creating greater economic burdens for patients.

The guideline, released by the health reform office under the State Council, or China’s Cabinet, is intended to consolidate and improve the basic medicine system and offer solutions for problems related to local-level health care reform.

The guideline calls for efforts to teach medical staff to use basic medicine properly, as well as encourages non-governmental local medical institutions to use medications that are on the basic medicine list.

According to the guideline, income distribution should be tilted toward medical workers who are on the frontline of medical practice or are in key positions, as well as toward those who have made outstanding contributions in the field.

“The new guideline aims to reinforce and improve various policies based on implementation results seen over the past few years,” said Sun Zhigang, head of the office.

According to Sun, the office conducted local inspections and solicited opinions from various medical officials and experts in order to draft the guideline.

The guideline stresses that a government funding system must be secured to keep local medical institutions up and running, with enough equipment and personnel capabilities to match their service scope and quality.

“On one hand, we must cultivate enough talent for local medical institutions and ensure their normal operation; on the other, their medical services should gradually adopt a more information technology-based mode,” Sun said.

According to Sun, ensuring the interests of village doctors is a key aspect of the guideline, which also aims to improve their working conditions and solve issues concerning their pensions and professional risks.

While encouraging medical institutions at the village level to shoulder some 40 percent of local medical service burdens, the guideline urges punishment for village doctors who abuse medical resources or unreasonably prescribe drugs to patients.

Local health and medical institutions that seek to earn greater profits by prescribing basic medicines will also be punished, the guideline says.

In addition, the guideline also calls for quality inspections for basic medicine and the implementation of electronic monitoring during the medication production process. It also asks for inspection results to be released to the public regularly.

The health reform office has urged province-level governments to draft concrete measures to help medical workers adjust to the new guideline.


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