Baby Dead After Hospital Refuses to Send Ambulance Without Payment

Chinese ambulance cartoon: Ambulance won't move without money.

Ambulance refused to leave and asked for money

From NetEase:

Hunan Ambulance Won’t Depart Without Payment; Baby Dead After 1 Hour Delay in Hospital Transfer

“Please, for the love of this little life, first take my child to Changsha. My husband will wait in the hospital there and pay you immediately after you arrive.” This was the evening of 2013 December 23, the imploring of the mother of a critically ill baby towards the 120 emergency dispatch center of the Xiangxiang People’s Hospital.

But the reply of the person on duty was this ice-cold: “No! We have regulations, that you must pay 800 yuan first. If you don’t pay, we can’t dispatch an ambulance.” By the time kind-hearted people helped this mother put together 800 yuan, more than an hour had passed. Though eventually transferred to provincial children’s hospital for emergency medical treatment, the 13-month-old child still unfortunately died.

Child suddenly falls critically ill

Clinic doctor kindly took [the baby to the hospital]

January 5, in Xiangxiang, while holding her son Xiang Xiang’s, Ms. Tan remains unable to suppress her sorrow.

On the evening of 2013 December 23, Xiang Xiang suddenly began crying without stopping, with an expression of pained suffering. Ms. Tan hurriedly carried her baby to the nearby clinic. At that time, she only had a little more than 100 yuan on her.

After a simple examination, the clinic found the child’s illness to be very serious, and suggested that Ms Tan hurry and bring the baby to the Xiangxiang City People’s Hospital. Seeing that it was already getting late, and that there were no cars [taxis] on the road, the warm-hearted clinic doctor drove Ms. Tan and her son to Xiangxiang People’s Hospital in his own car, without asking for any car fare.

By the time they arrived at the city’s People’s Hospital, it was already 7:10pm. The hospital examined Xiangxiang, and the results came back at 9:11pm. The doctor looked at the test results, told Ms. Tan that the baby’s illness was very serious, and had her contact an ambulance to immediately transfer to the Provincial Children’s Hospital.

Sick baby’s mother begged

120 said no payment, no dispatching of ambulance

At this point, the baby’s whole body was cold, face pale, and was short of breath. Ms. Tan hurriedly ran to the Xiangxiang People’s Hospital 120 emergency center, contacting the ambulance to transfer hospitals. The staff on duty said, from Xiangxiang to Changsha, 800 yuan fee must be paid.

Ms. Tan said, “I don’t have that much money on me, first help take my child to Changsha. My husband will wait in the hospital there and immediately give you the money upon arrival.” Ms Tan’s husband was also on the phone repeatedly begging, “bring the child here, I’m waiting here at the hospital and will immediately pay the money once the car arrives.”

The staff replied: “No. The hospital has regulations, that can’t be done.” Ms Tan pleaded again: “Please, for the love of this little life, do a good deed!” The staff answered: “Where is there such a thing? How can [the ambulance] go without money being paid? “

Helpless, Tan could only call all over the place to raise money. At this time, upon seeing Ms. Tan at her wits end, several complete strangers–the family members of other hospital patients–in the hallway each took out 200 yuan, handing it to her. Ms Tan then hurriedly gave the 800 yuan assembled to the payment office.

baby dies after an ambulance delay over a payment dispute

Delayed for more than an hour

Child dies after being transferred to Changsha

Only after receiving the money did the ambulance depart, taking Ms. Tan and her son to the provincial children’s hospital. Regrettably, Xiang Xiang unfortunately still ultimately died on December 24 at 2am. The death record shows that he died of heart and respiratory failure.

“From 9:40 that evening when the ambulance was contacted until 10:50 when it departed, for 800 yuan, there was a delay of more than an hour,” said Ms Tan, “The doctors are the Provincial Children’s Hospital said, ‘if you had brought [the baby] just a bit sooner, there might have been hope for the child.'”

On the wall of the 120 emergency center at Xiangxiang People’s Hospital hangs banners such as “Time Is Life”. After the incident, facing questions, the staff continued to maintain that paying first before sending the ambulance is the regulation of the hospital’s first aid center, and is the same even for critical ill patients.

A grieving Ms. Tan who lost her son asks: “Why does a hospital that should help the dying and heal the injured put money first? Is a life not worth even 800 yuan? It’s truly too cold-blooded. Can this still be called a hospital?”

Reporter investigation

Many Xiangxiang hospital fees exceed standards

And only after paying money can [an ambulance] depart

The Provincial Price Bureau and Provincial Health Department previously released on September 2012 a “Notice of Adjustment to Standard Prices for Medical Services in our Province” stipulating: For provincial, municipal, and county hospitals dispatching an ambulance, the fare is 10 yuan within 3 kilometers, and after 3 kilometers, it is 2 yuan for each additional kilometer.

From Xiangxiang People’s Hospital to the Provincial Children’s Hospital, the route is about 100-110km. Calculating a 200-220km round-trip, the ambulance fare should be 404 yuan to 440 yuan. However, Xiangxiang People’s Hospital charged 800 yuan, obviously exceeding regulations.

This reporters visited and found that in addition to this hospital, Xiangxiang Hospital of Traditional Chinese Medicine, Dongshan Hospital and the first aid centers of many other hospitals all charge 800 yuan or 850 yuan to transport patients to Changsha, and also require payment first, or else they won’t send the ambulance.


Comments from NetEase:

梵高遛狗不挑品种 [网易山东省东营市网友]:

I know the responsibility is on multiple parties, but if the child was mine, I think I would’ve stabbed this driver!

网易江苏省连云港市手机网友 ip:114.237.*.*

The ambulance [service contract] must have been given to the relatives of hospital director or the local health bureau chief. Strongly suggest that President Xi personally rectify medical ethics throughout the country!

ShuiHen [网易上海市松江区网友]:

This part of the reason why modern people aren’t very willing to return to living in small [rural, less developed] places, and insist on squeezing into in big cities.
The healthcare, education, transportation, various systems in a small place are all lacking! How would places like that attract anyone?!


The child’s parents also have responsibility that is difficult to shirk. When [the baby] was being transferred to the large hospital, why didn’t the baby’s mother take money or do anything in anticipation [of expected expenses]? This kind of thing should is already a big situation, and if you don’t have time, you can contact friends and family, so why was there no anticipation at all?
Second, the hospital staff have responsibility, but society overall is also unable to escape responsibility. In this day and age where public morals decline by the day, where honesty/good faith has collapsed, where people laugh at poverty but not prostitution [believing immorality is better than poverty], people who skip out on paying, who cause problems at hospitals, who even defraud others can be found everywhere. To be honest, it isn’t easy for ambulance operators to make a living either. If there can be less skipping out on paying and more positive energy spread around [social reinforcement of positive ethics and behavior], I think it would give ambulance operators more motivation.
Health care reform indeed needs to take a big step. A few days ago I saw a saying: “The ordinary common people spend the first half of their life exchanging their life for money, and spend the latter half of their lives exchanging money for life.” But what if you get sick while you’re still in the stage of using life to make money?

网易浙江省杭州市手机网友 ip:211.140.*.*: (responding to above)

You are stupid! Who would know it was so serious. Do you happen to bring thousands with you to the hospital every time?

Comments from QQ:

喓长﹏ ┾断:

Don’t tell me all hospitals make regulations like your hospital does? Not dispatching ambulances without first seeing money, this is clearly putting money first so what’s the use of having a 120 [emergency services number] like you…? When you are on your dying breath, if you had to choose between life and money, would you still choose money???????


This is a problem of “being too rigid when doing things” [being too strict with rules and not knowing when to bend/break them]? [No,] this is a problem with the hospital being too cold-blooded!
Shouldn’t ambulances be for the public good/welfare? What other country’s ambulances are like China’s where no payment means no dispatching? Where’s the funding for medical care and public health? What about the taxes the people have paid?


What is critically ill! Who defines it? Who dares to define it? There was nothing the hospital could do either! After all, the hospital has to continue operating! When the higher-ups don’t give money [funding], what can the hospital do?! Our hospital here doesn’t even take patients anymore! Any patient that comes is told to transfer to another hospital! We’ll say our skills are limited, our level of care is limited, that we don’t want to delay you/waste your time. Even if we could take care of you, we won’t, because to treat a patient would mean the doctors don’t make any money! At 3 thousand yuan a month, the doctors are all very negative! [The doctors] tell me in private: “Go wherever I want to go to see a doctor! With this little money, I don’t have the energy to serve you. Just taking some patients with minor illness is enough. However much money I get is however much treatment I’ll provide!


You can use your own law to go do certain things. Your child is gone now. With today’s society, you have to have your own set of laws.


This is the difference between China and Europe/America, doing things so rigidly without courage/daring [to make exceptions], what a tragedy


Written by Bing


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