December 9, 2009, in Guangzhou, a 3-year-old boy’s dead body was found abandoned in a dry ditch on the side of Guangchong highway. The boy named Zhou Hongdu was severely infected with H1N1 virus. The news caused quite a stir when once broke out. Many media continuously tracked this matter for days; Guangzhou residents showed great concerns and raised heated discussions about the incident. It has been listed as one of the top ten health news incidents in 2009. The incident resulted in many “questions” which still had no answers to until this day, some netizens called it Guangzhou’s “number 1 mystery” in 2009. Yesterday, Guangzhou health and public security departments issued written statements of the incident investigation. Health department said, the hospital’s treatment was effective, and the discharging was in compliance with the law and regulation; however this does not mean their work is without flaws. Public security department said, “There has not been evidence for suspecting relevant parties of any crime”.
Hongdu was abandoned in a ditch for over a month. Was the child still alive when leaving the hospital? This was media’s number one questions. Yesterday, health department stated, according to doctor’s records, custody records and hospital records etc. before the child left the hospital, he was still in the intensive care and under active treatment, when he left the hospital the baby had vital signs of being alive.
Health department stated that during the time when Hongdu was being treated at the City’s Women and Children’s Medical Center, the hospital strictly followed relevant provisions of treatment practices for infectious diseases, actively provided treatment for the patient.
The statement said “Due to the rapid development of the illness, the hospital explained the patient’s illness and treatment to the family members many times, patient’s family expressed understanding. After the patient was in the hospital for 4 days, his illness had worsened, the hospital once again explained the situation to the parents, and the parents expressed understanding. On the same day, patient’s family total of 10 people, twice requested to give up treatment and to discharge the patient from the hospital. After the hospital discouraged this decision several times but was unable to persuade the family, on the same day 8pm after the parents singed statement of willingly being discharged form hospital, the hospital agreed to proceed with the discharging. At 11 pm the family took Zhou Hongdu out of the hospital.”
|11/26||Entering Zhongshan first hospital||fever, coughing|
|12/3||Diagnosed with H1N1, and sent the child to City’s Children’s hospital||illness worsened|
|12/5-6||The hospital reported the situation 4 times to the parents||the patient was in critical condition|
|12/6||Family twice requested to give up on treatment, finally left the hospital at 11pm||H1N1 virus nucleic acid testing was negative, virus contingence is lowered.|
Knowing the child was severely infected with H1N1 virus, but agreed to let him leave the hospital, is the hospital at fault? This is also one of the media report’s focuses.
In regard to this, the Guangzhou municipal health department stated in the statement “The hospital’s treatment was active and effective.” The health department determined the discharging was in compliance with the law and regulation because of the following 4 reason.
1. When the parents of the patient took initiative to request their son being discharged from the hospital, the hospital fulfilled its responsibility by informing the situation and pressing the family to let the patient stay. In order to respect patient’s family’s rights to make the choice when already being informed the situation, the hospital agreed to discharge the patient.
2. H1N1 is classified as category B infectious diseases so the hospital cannot mandate the isolation and treatment. Therefore the hospital cannot forcefully prevent the child to leave the hospital.
3. Before the patient left the hospital, his father signed the discharge statement, and the father clearly understood the child’s condition, which he should not leave the hospital. Knowing what would happen to the child if leaving the hospital, but he still insisted with this decision, and made the statement that anything were happen to the child after leaving the hospital will not hold the hospital responsible .
4. After the child was discharged from the hospital, the hospital reported the relevant information to the health administrative department and Baiyun District Center for Disease Control and Prevention.
At the same time, health department in the statement also admitted “consistent with the clinical and legal requirements does not mean the work is without flaws.”
The health department said “The hospital should have done better at handling this incident; should have done more detailed work of communicating with the family and to making a greater effort to retain the child. The Hospital should not rigidly stick to the regulations, should show more humanity and care, not to give up on any chance of saving a child’s life.”
The health department also said “In the future we should strengthen the publicity of the funeral management regulations, to correctly handle the dead bodies, on one hand it is the pay respect to the dead, on the other hand is to be in line with the requirement of public health to protect public interest.”
Does Hongdu’s family’s actions constitute of any crimes of abandonment or even murder? Yesterday, Guangzhou Public Security Bureau said in a written statement, “There has not been evidence for suspecting relevant parties of any crime”.
According to the briefing, December 9, 2009 morning, the police received report about a child’s dead body was found in a ditch by the side of the highway. After receiving the report, Baiyun District Public Security Bureau police quickly carried out investigations, and commissioned the Southern Forensic Medical Center to conduct an autopsy. According to the investigation results and conclusion of the comprehensive analysis, there has not been evidence for suspecting relevant parties of any crime.
Hongdu’s dead body was abandoned in a ditch under the highway, many readers cried out that it is “too cruel”. However when the reporter interviewed Hongdu’s hometown village, everyone thinks this incident is nothing new. Villager said “this just is how we normally deal with the remains of a child.” When a child dies, the villagers retain two customs when handling the corpse. 1. The directly family must not be involved in handling the body; 2. There will be no funnel. They will hire a bachelor to carry the body to the mountains, and just abandoning the body or burring in a shallow grave, no one will be held accountable.