Corruption and inefficiency within China's medical system have contributed, some say, to the recent steep rise in patient-perpetrated violence at public hospitals.
Authorities are apparently aiming to quell public anger with a set of comprehensive medical reforms currently being tried in several of China's top-tier cities such as Beijing and Shenzhen. The reforms eliminate significant markups on prescription drugs that are thought to have encouraged cash-strapped doctors to overprescribe costly medication.
In a similar spirit, the Ministry of Health unveiled in July a sweeping code of conduct applicable to all of China's nearly nine million medical personnel.
The code explicitly prohibits medical workers from receiving bribes from patients and companies. In addition, it requires doctors to follow professional protocol when determining a course of treatment, and to avoid administering "excessive" treatment.
Under the code, doctors are also prohibited from participating in advertisements for medicine or medical devices.
"It will help to better regulate the practices of China's medical workers, improve medical care quality, amend the doctor-patient relationship, and ensure the smooth implementation of medical reforms," said an MOH deputy minister at a recent press conference.
The document does not include enforcement guidelines. Hospital officials will be responsible for enforcing the Ministry's ethical provisions.
Sources: Xinhua News (新华社), China Daily