A county clinic in Eastern China has been denounced and labeled as cruel by state media for taking three months to inform a patient that she had cervical cancer. Because of the delay in diagnosis, the patient’s cancer metastasized and spread to her blood, requiring her to undergo extensive chemotherapy and a complete hysterectomy.
The clinic is located in Shuanggang, a town in the Jiangsu province. It claims it only had one employee who handled patient results. The clinic’s failure to apologize and it’s insistence that the error was only a “minor flaw in their work” is really what prompted the widespread publicity and criticism.
The patient, Zhang Lijuang, is in her early thirties and had undergone breast and cervical cancer screening tests organized by the Shuanggang town clinic last year. The clinic received the positive result only a month after Lijuang’s visit, but did not notify her until three months later. When asked how such an error could have been possible, the clinic’s spokesperson explained that for over over 1,000 women tested each year, only one staff member is responsible for analyzing the results. The spokesperson did not apologize for the error, but promised to improve the process in the future.
Unfortunately, this error was very costly. After Lijuang received her test results, she visited the county hospital and the Shanghai Cancer Hospital to confirm her diagnosis. In October, she was informed that the cancer cells had metastasized and spread to her bloodstream. After having a complete hysterectomy, she continues to receive chemotherapy treatments.
Lijuang’s husband said was quoted saying, “If we had received the test results earlier and treated the cancer promptly, it would not have gotten so bad.” But Zhang has had to receive chemotherapy monthly, which has cost her over $400,000 yuan, or $60,000 USD. This is only the beginning. Others have begun to voice their criticism against the country’s health commission, with one person even saying, “This isn’t a flaw, this is murder.”