In America, I often hear praise for “Chinese Medicine”. By this they mean Traditional Chinese Medicine, which includes acupuncture and techniques that harness hormesis. I tend to agree. Medicine as now practiced in China is a different story.
Last night, I had dinner with some of my students. I asked them what their parents thought of their decision to major in psychology. One of them had a surprising answer. Her mom was happy that she was majoring in psychology because among the required courses was a human anatomy and physiology class. If her daughter took this class, her mom believed, it would be harder for doctors to cheat us.
Chinese doctors “cheating” patients is a big problem, in other words. They prescribe drugs that don’t work, said my student, and perform useless surgeries. Little different than Western medicine, except perhaps the drugs are less dangerous. Just as in Western medicine, drug reps try to bribe doctors to request their drugs. Unlike Western medicine, doctors steal the drugs of hospitalized patients, my student said, which they then sell. After a friend of mine was badly burned, she had (wisely) turned down the recommendation of a skin transplant. This angered her doctor, who would have made money from the operation. Later, when he changed her bandages, he did so roughly, which was very painful. Revenge.
“Don’t see the doctors at Tsinghua hospital [the campus hospital],” said my student. She had had a bad experience. She had gotten injured and gone to the hospital. She had had to wait half an hour to see a doctor; who had taken a mere 30 seconds to prescribe a cream that did almost nothing. That evening I watched The Poseidon Adventure. A doctor visits a sick woman in bed in her cabin. After a long wait, he gives her cursory treatment.
HUSBAND (to doctor) Hold it, hold it. You mean to tell me we had to wait all this time just for you to come in here and kiss her off with a couple of pills and some crap about staying in bed? How do you know she’s just seasick? Look at her! It could be something else! You didn’t even examine her.