China cracks down on ‘care-seeking’ doctors
China’s government on Wednesday banned some doctors from using online tools to seek care, as part of efforts to combat “care-seekers” who are taking advantage of its “care clearinghouse.”
The move follows reports that some doctors have been using such services to obtain prescriptions for painkillers and even “medical tourism.”
Chinese President Xi Jinping announced the move on Tuesday, and has since announced a series of measures designed to curb the practice of doctors seeking out medical advice from online services.
Doctors who have been arrested for providing advice to customers in China have been subject to jail terms of up to 15 years, and the government is also investigating whether any Chinese doctors have engaged in such activities abroad.
As part of its crackdown on the practice, China’s Ministry of Health said it would “prohibit” doctors from “providing any kind of services that involve the use of online health care clearinghouses or other types of health information services.”
While the announcement is unlikely to have a large impact on doctors, it’s a step in the right direction in the fight against the practice.
The Chinese government has long struggled to crack down on the use and abuse of online services to seek medical advice.
In October, authorities announced that they had banned a number of Chinese doctors from entering the country to seek treatment from hospitals.
In February, a man from the southwestern city of Xiamen was sentenced to two years in prison after admitting to using the online “doctor-advice” site QQ to seek out a doctor to treat his condition.
In May, China issued a statement saying it was “committed to cracking down on “care seeking” doctors and other “care seekers.
“In an online posting on Monday, the government said that “health care professionals who use online health service to obtain medical advice for patients are breaking the law and should be prosecuted.
“It added that doctors who engage in such activity “must be severely punished, and any doctors and related staff who provide such services are to be punished severely.