2016-06-14 13:26:49

China’s endemic problem of violence directed at medical personnel has once again reared its head, this time with a vicious knife attack on the child of a member of medical staff by a disgruntled patient.

According to a report by Sixth Tone’s sister publication The Paper, the attack took place early Monday morning aboard a bus in a small town 60 kilometers away from Changsha, capital of China’s central Hunan province. The 10-year-old victim was followed onto the bus by a middle-aged man, who then stabbed the boy multiple times before being apprehended by the driver.

In graphic security footage captured on board the bus, the attacker can be seen sitting down in front of the boy towards the back of the vehicle. After calmly paying for his bus ticket, he takes out a knife from his jacket and launches into the attack on the child, stabbing him more than 12 times.

Passengers are seen fleeing the scene, and the attacker is stopped only when a man, reported to be the driver, rushes over and intervenes.

The victim is reported to be the son of a member of the medical staff surnamed Kong who works at a health center in the town of Yuejiaqiao, where the 54-year-old suspected attacker, surnamed He, had been treated for chronic respiratory disease. It has not been made known whether Kong is the mother or father of the victim. 

In an announcement on its official microblogging Weibo account, Hunan police gave further information about the incident, which they described as an attempted murder. The suspect, now in police custody, had harbored a grudge towards the boy’s parent after they had once attempted to diffuse a dispute between He and other medical staff at the Yuejiaqiao health center, the announcement said.

He’s grievances toward the health center began in May this year, the police announcement said, over the reimbursement of medical expenses following He’s transferal to another medical institution.

Following the attack, the boy was sent to the Yiyang Medical College Affiliated Hospital where he was treated for multiple stab wounds. Medical staff told Sixth Tone Tuesday evening that he was still being cared for at the hospital and was in a stable condition.

“The boy had injuries to both his arms and his face,” a paramedic who was in the ambulance that transported the boy to hospital told Sixth Tone. The paramedic, who declined to be named, said that the boy had sustained critical damage to his right arm’s radial nerve, a crucial nerve that communicates with muscles in the forearm and hand.

The Beijing News cited staff at the Yiyang Medical College Affiliated Hospital as saying that the boy’s injuries may have lasting effects.

Monday’s stabbing is the latest incident in China’s long-lasting plague of violence carried out by aggrieved medical patients. A dentist was stabbed to death in May by a patient who claimed that surgery carried out decades before had ruined his teeth.

Ongoing violence against medical staff prompted the government to issue an amendment to the law last year targeted directly at those who carry out attacks on medical staff. Coming into effect in November 2015, the amendment stated that those found guilty of physically abusing medical staff can expect a jail sentence of up to seven years. 

Additional reporting by Cai Yiwen.

(Header image: The 10-year-old victim of a knife attack undergoes surgery at Yiyang Medical College Affiliated Hospital, Hunan province, June 13, 2016. Courtesy of Yiyangtoutiao)