The Claim and Our Verdict
- The claim: A Facebook post published Nov. 22, 2021, claims Li Qian, a doctor from Peking University Third Hospital, was charged with practicing medicine illegally because she helped deliver the baby on a train rather than her registered place of work.
- According to the statements issued by Peking University Third Hospital and Intermediate People’s Court of Nanjing, Jiangsu, neither the obstetrician nor the case existed. The incident was fabricated by a medical worker in Henan Province back in 2014 with an intention to arouse public understanding and support for medical workers. The person in the photo presented in the claim is called Gu Chunfang, who was sentenced to death with reprieve for fundraising fraud.
- Related Chinese laws and regulations stipulate doctors responding to emergencies outside their places of work doesn’t constitute practicing medicine. It is an act of a Good Samaritan which should be highly commended.
- Therefore, the video is a scripted and staged short film, not a genuine incident on a flight.
- Our ruling: Therefore, we rate the claim as FALSE.
A Facebook post published Nov. 22, 2021, claims Dr. Li Qian from Peking University Third Hospital was sued for malpractice after she helped deliver a baby on a train from Shanghai to Beijing in 2015. Following this, Li brought the mother and the newborn to a hospital in Nanjing, where the baby was diagnosed with pneumonia and the family sued the doctor for malpractice. As a result, based on the Law on Practicing Doctors of the People’s Republic of China, the judge ruled Li practicing illegally and sentenced to compensate for medical expenses and lost wages, together with other fees.
As of the issuance of this report, the post had been shared 50 times, and had received 31 comments and 103 likes or reactions.
A keyword search found similar content spreading on the internet back in 2014, and a number of clarifications regarding this matter had been published in the same year. Similar claims can also be found circulating on WeChat and Weibo.
1.Was Li charged with malpractice for saving people’s life?
The Intermediate People’s Court of Nanjing, Jiangsu made an announcement June 28, 2014, on their official WeChat account. The announcement translates in part as,
“1. People’s Court of Yuhuatai District and Intermediate People’s Court of Nanjing have never accepted any case with Li Qian being the defendant or any lawsuit caused by doctors who saved people on the train.
“2. There’s no registered physician called Li Qian on the official website of Peking University Third Hospital.”
A Weibo post published June 28, 2014 by Peking University Third Hospital states that after investigation, there was no such a doctor called Li Qian in the hospital. An article published July 7, 2014 by People’s Court Daily, a daily newspaper owned by China’s Supreme People’s Court, showed that judges from People’s Court of Yuhuatai District and Intermediate People’s Court of Nanjing scoured the archives and found no such case involving the so-called Dr. Li Qian. Thus, neither the obstetrician nor the case existed.
A reverse image search found a news article published Oct. 24, 2013, on People’s Daily Online, an online news website operated by the Chinese state-owned daily newspaper People’s Daily. A screenshot comparison shows the photo presented in the claim and the one attached in the People’s Daily Online article are identical. The People’s Daily Online article claimed that Gu Chunfang, a businesswoman living in eastern China, was sentenced to death with reprieve for fundraising fraud. According to the Oct. 24 article, Intermediate People’s Court of Suzhou, Jiangsu Province issued Oct. 23. 2013 the first-instance verdict on Gu’s crimes of fund-raising fraud, contract fraud, and false capital contribution and withdrawal. Gu was sentenced to death with reprieve, deprivation of lifetime political rights, and confiscation of all personal property.
An announcement issued July 6, 2014 by the Nanjing Public Security Bureau states that the incident was fabricated by Mr. Shang from Henan Province. He is also a medical worker. Focus Interview, an in-depth report program broadcast by CCTV, interviewed Shang. Shang claimed during the interview that he spread the rumor in order to arouse public understanding and support for medical workers.
2.Does it constitute malpractice if doctors respond to emergencies outside their workplaces?
According to Article 336, Criminal Law of the People’s Republic of China (Criminal Law), whoever engages in medical practice illegally, without obtaining the qualification for medical practice and when the circumstances are serious, shall be sentenced to no more than three years of fixed-term imprisonment, criminal detention, or control, and may in addition or exclusively be sentenced to a fine. According to Article 14, Law on Practicing Doctors of the People’s Republic of China (“Law on Practicing Doctors”), those who have not been registered and obtained the practicing certificate shall not engage in medical practice. Meanwhile, Article 24 of Law on Practicing Doctors stipulates that doctors shall take immediate measures to treat emergency patients and shall not refuse to give emergency treatment to such patients. According to the above legal provisions, there’s no regulation related to malpractice outside of doctors’ places of work in Criminal Law and Law on Practicing Doctors. On the contrary, based on Law on Practicing Doctors, it is the doctors’ obligation to give emergency treatment.
In addition, Article 5 of Tentative Regulation on the Administration of Practicing Physicians released in 2001 by China’s Ministry of Health stipulates that practicing physicians responding to emergencies outside their places of work can be exempted from liability.
An article was published June 28, 2014 by China News, an online news website operated by China’s state-owned news agency China News Service. The article cites comments from Zhang Wensheng, a lawyer from Beijing Jinghan Law Firm: “Illegal medical practice refers to unlicensed, long-term, profit-driven diagnosis or treatment. Occasional treatment won’t be considered medical malpractice irrespective of whether it is licensed or not.”
An article published June 30, 2014 by China Youth Daily, the official newspaper of China’s Communist Youth League, cited the explanation by Wang Yue, the then associate professor of Health Humanities Research Center, Health Science Center, Peking University (now Wang is professor and vice dean of the School of Health Humanities, Peking University). Wang said that Law on Practicing Doctors applies to the medical legal relationship between the patients and the medical workers who provide medical services in the capacity of doctors. “Strictly speaking, helping others is not a medical practice or a medical-legal relationship, but rather a social tie that should not be restricted by the above-mentioned law,” Wang said. He considered that we should not use the criteria for surgery or medical check to judge the case of “Dr. Li Qian.”
The Law on Doctors of the People’s Republic of China (“the Law on Doctors”) was issued and adopted Aug. 20, 2021, at the 30th session of the Standing Committee of the Thirteenth National People’s Congress of the People’s Republic of China. Article 27 of the Law on Doctors maintains similar content from the Law on Practicing Doctors that doctors shall take immediate measure to treat the patients in need of emergency; no doctor may refuse to give emergency treatment. Meanwhile, the Law on Doctors encourages doctors to respond to medical emergencies on public transport; they would not be held liable for patients’ complications. The Law on Practicing Doctors will be replaced by the Law on Doctors on Mar. 1, 2022. China’s laws and regulations, therefore, don’t deem it illegal for doctors’ responding to medical emergency in public places, but also encourage doctors to participate in first aid.
3.Is the claim “legally sensible”?
Regarding Li Qian’s reapplication for administration reconsideration mentioned in the claim, Wang Wei, founding partner of Zhejiang Chujiu Law Firm, told HKBU Fact Check: “administrative reconsideration can only target at specific administrative actions, including various punishment decisions. Judicial actions are not included in the scope of administrative reconsideration. If there is any disagreement with the verdict from the first instance court, appeals can be made to the second instance court. Any disagreement on the verdict of the second instance, which is the final judgment, can be brought to a higher court for retrial.”
On Feb. 9, 2015, Focus Interview had a talk with Shi Jun, the then vice president of Intermediate People’s Court of Nanjing. He said, “It is impossible for three lawsuits to be mixed up in one court case. The claim does not make sense.” An article published July 7, 2014 by People’s Court Daily quoted the comment from the lawyer Luan Yungen: “the logic of the rumor is very confusing—given this is a civil case, the court cannot demand civil compensation based on Criminal Law. At the same time, civil compensation cases will only be charged by solicitors instead of barristers.”
Therefore, the incident confused multiple legal concepts. People can judge the veracity of such rumors if they could identify the illogical and unreasonable rationale within.
Therefore, we rate the claim as FALSE.
- Facebook post, Nov. 22, 2021.
- Westca blog, post.
- Intermediate People’s Court of Nanjing, Jiangsu, “Announcement on the rumor that a doctor was charged with malpractice after she helped deliver on a train,” June 28, 2014.
- Peking University Third Hospital, announcement, June 28, 2014.
- People’s Court Daily, “Refuting Rumors, a cut-throat competition against time,” Jul. 7, 2014.
- Criminal Law of the People’s Republic of China (Amended).
- Law on Practicing Doctors of the People’s Republic of China.
- Profile of Wang Wei, Zhejiang Chujiu Law Firm.
- Focus Interview, “Zero tolerance on the spread of fake law,” Feb. 9, 2015.
- Nanjing Public Security Bureau, announcement, July 6, 2014.
- China’s Ministry of Health, “Tentative Regulation on the Administration of Practicing Physicians,” June 20, 2001.
- China News, “Nanjing Court’s clarification on the fabricated ‘Dr. Li Qian’ case,” June 28, 2014.
- China Youth Daily, “A doctor charged for saving life on the train? What is the fact behind online rumors?” June 30, 2014.
- Law on Practicing Doctors of the People’s Republic of China, Aug. 20, 2021.
- People’s Daily Online, “Gu sentenced death with reprieve for illegal fundraising,” Oct. 24, 2013.