The family of a Chinese doctor who died after treating more than 3,000 patients in a month inside a virus-hit city has won a successful appeal against government officials who refused to rule his death as work-related.
Doctor Liu Wenxiong, 50, died of a heart attack in his home on the morning of 13th February having seen 3,181 patients – including 670 with fevers – between 12th January and 12th February.
He was one of four front-line medics in the fever ward of Sanfutan Town Hospital in the city of Xiantao, which has been on lockdown for more than six weeks along with nearly 60 million others residing in the central Chinese province of Hubei.
Despite Doctor Liu having tended to more patients than all his colleagues combined, the Xiantai City Human Resources and Social Security Bureau ruled that his death was not work-related.
In a report released on 20th February, the municipal labour organ said Doctor Liu’s fatal heart attack failed to meet the conditions of a work-related injury or death, occurring outside of clinic hours, inside his own home, and did not result from COVID-19 symptoms.
But for a successful appeal lodged by the medic’s colleagues and family members, his wife and son would not have been eligible to claim for a new occupational injury insurance – introduced by the Chinese government for front-line health workers affected by the coronavirus outbreak.
According to reports, the appeal to the Xiantao People’s Government argued that Doctor Liu’s overloaded work regime was in response to a direct order from the municipal health commission on 22nd January.
As the death toll from confirmed coronavirus cases began to soar, the health office ordered health workers to engage “wartime measures”, cancelling all Chinese New Year leave and putting medics on call for 24 hours a day.
Doctor Liu, who had been diagnosed with a heart condition in 2017, took just three days off – including one for sick leave – in the month leading up to his death, hospital records show.
He regularly treated more than 100 patients a day, including 180 on 21st January.
The Xiantai City Human Resources and Social Security Bureau was given 60 days to change its report on Doctor Liu’s case, and a new death certificate was issued on 7th March.
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