2017-08-28 11:26:01

Psoriasis patients seeking treatment at one hospital in northern China need to pass a written exam before they can be admitted, the Beijing Youth Daily reported Monday.

Zhang Yingdong, director of the psoriasis division at Shanxi Hospital of Integrated Traditional and Western Medicine, told the newspaper that the exam is intended to help patients learn more about the disease, and that most of the questions had been pulled from his own books, which he said can serve as study guides.

An article published Wednesday on a public account on messaging app WeChat speculated that Zhang was profiting from the exam by asking patients to buy his books: When the Beijing Youth Daily’s reporter contacted Zhang’s office posing as a psoriasis patient, they were sent a link from which they could purchase his books, priced at 130 yuan ($20) for a set of four.

For his part, Zhang denies that he is forcing his patients to buy the books. “The patients can read my essays online as well,” Zhang told the Beijing Youth Daily.

However, one of Zhang’s patients told the newspaper that despite having been treated at the hospital before, he had been required to retake the exam each time he visited. When he finally failed it, the hospital would not readmit him. And another patient complained that he had come a long way to receive timely treatment, only to find himself become a target for Zhang’s promotion of his own books.

Psoriasis is a nondebilitating skin condition in which some cells reproduce more rapidly than others, resulting in red or otherwise discolored patches. In January 2016, Zhang’s hospital established a psoriasis division, promoting a “traditional perspiration treatment” — based on the purported palliative properties of increased sweating — that he developed.

Hao Dongliang, deputy director of the Shanxi Health and Family Planning Commission’s publicity department, told Sixth Tone on Monday that the hospital has complied with official orders to begin an internal investigation.

When Sixth Tone called Zhang’s office, a staff member said the hospital would be responding to the controversy later this week. She refused to give her name because she was not authorized to speak to the media.

Editor: David Paulk.

(Header image: Bing You/VCG)