Have you ever seen a knife made of precious stones? In 2020, Mr. Jin was about to have surgery at a hospital in Hunan. Unexpectedly, the surgeon asked the patient’s family to buy a scalpel for nearly $600. If the family did not buy it, the surgery would not continue. So the family had to spend a large amount of money unjustly. So, after all, what kind of scalpel is so expensive?

According to Chinese media NetEase, 58-year-old Mr. Jin and his wife, when they were young, had gone out to trade for a living, and their long-term hardship made the couple’s health consistently poor, and they had to take medicine every day. So when they got old, the old couple decided to return to their hometown to work as farmers, living peaceful days, working all day from sunrise and resting at sunset.

According to innews QQ, Mr. Jin is from Shaoyang, Hunan. Some time ago, Mr. Jin suddenly felt unwell. At first, he thought it was an old disease, so he did not care, but over time, his symptoms became more and more apparent, so he and his wife went to Shaoyang College’s No. 1 affiliated hospital on Aug. 10, 2020, for a checkup. Examination results showed that he had colorectal cancer and chronic colitis.

Mr. Jin did not understand the severity of the disease. Still, when he heard the word “cancer,” he began to panic and felt it was an incurable disease, so he called his son and daughter to come and tell them about burial observances. Fortunately, the doctor examined him and found that the tumor in Mr. Jin’s body was benign and could be surgically removed.

The next day, the surgeon performed endoscopic submucosal dissection—a minimally invasive surgery. The incision was not large, and Mr. Jin was not completely anesthetized during the operation and remained somewhat conscious, and he could hear the conversation between doctors and nurses.

When the operation was in progress, around 4:30 p.m. on Aug. 11, the nurse spoke to Mr. Jin’s wife, Ms. Liu, and told her: “Colon polyps and small tumors were removed from Mr. Jin, but there was still a relatively large tumor, which required special surgery to remove it.” Moreover, the surgeon required Ms. Liu to buy the scalpel quickly, which confused Mrs. Liu.

How can it be necessary to buy a scalpel for a doctor during surgery? However, because she was worried about her husband, who was still in the operating room, Ms. Liu could not think, and she was afraid the doctor would not operate on her husband if she did not buy a scalpel, so Ms. Liu spent $600 to buy a scalpel.

The surgery went very smoothly, and Mr. Jin’s symptoms improved markedly. However, Mr. Jin and Mrs. Liu’s questions remained unanswered. So what kind of scalpel can be worth $600? And why buy it in the middle of surgery? In Mr. Jin’s view, a scalpel is a tool for the doctor to operate on the patient, which the hospital should have prepared in advance.

It is highly unreasonable to ask the patient’s family to buy a scalpel during surgery. One more thing Mr. Jin found challenging was that the doctor never told them about the cost before the operation. He did not want to spend a lot of money in vain, so he sought out the chief surgeon, hoping that he might be able to answer his doubts.

But the doctor’s words dealt a blow to Mr. Jin. The doctor said that the $600 scalpel was made of precious stones, so the price was high. Mr. Jin only has physical problems, but his brain is still functioning well. He did not believe the doctor’s deceitful explanation.

Mr. Jin considered the surgery successful. Moreover, he had medical insurance to reimburse him, so he did not continue to pursue further. But when he was discharged from the hospital, he and his wife were dumbfounded that the $600 scalpel cost was not reimbursed by the hospital.

The fact that Mr. Jin spent $600 to buy a knife made him angry, and he felt deceived by the hospital. So he looked at all the hospital admission documents and finally discovered a bunch of clues in the receipts. Except for the cost of the scalpel listed among the cost of supplies, which is paid at the hospital’s outpatient department, everything else is paid at the inpatient department.

Is this the reason why the scalpel costs cannot be reimbursed?

Mr. Jin went to the hospital with his doubts to clarify the situation. When Mr. Jin could not find the primary surgeon who performed his operation, the principal surgeon said that buying the scalpel during the procedure is common, and all the patients here do.

In addition, the primary surgeon also said that the operation’s cost would be discussed with the patient before the procedure, and it is impossible to “behead somebody before reporting to the king,” this is entirely contrary to their previous explanation to Mr. Jin.

Mr. Jin found Director Wang of the hospital. Director Wang explained the use of this scalpel to Mr. Jin. He said that there are many ways to remove colon polyps, one of which is mucosal dissection.

Mucosal dissection requires a “dissection knife,” which Mr. Jin bought at a high price when Mr. Jin queried the director about asking the family member to buy a scalpel during surgery.

The primary surgeon’s explanation was he was worried the patient did not want to have the operation because the scalpel’s price was too high, and the refund was quite troublesome, so he came up with this trick. When Mr. Jin asked the primary surgeon again if the knife was made of precious stones, the director replied that there was no such thing, so the primary surgeon was lying. Because to make the scalpel look like it cost $600, the surgeon lied to the patient that it was a gemstone-plated knife, which is against all medical ethics. Sometimes, the more you try to cover something up, the more it will be revealed. Since then, Mr. Jin’s doubts have been largely answered.

However, Mr. Jin has yet to receive a reasonable explanation as to why the knife was counted separately at the outpatient department.

The director explained that this avoided affecting other expenses’ health insurance review process. Unfortunately, such an explanation did not convince Mr. Jin. The hospital was also afraid that the situation would escalate, so they sent the head of the department to apologize to Mr. Jin.

The head of the department said that the hospital is more concerned with reputation than money, and he sincerely apologized to Mr. Jin. He also clearly stated that he would strengthen the critical education of surgeons. But the $600 scalpel cannot be returned, making Mr. Jin very angry, as his ultimate aim is to get that gratuitous money returned. Unfortunately, after going around and around, he still has not achieved the goal. 

Mr. Jin then went to the local health commission, demanding a reasonable answer. The medical committee’s staff said that professional scalpels in this particular surgical case are high-end consumables. The use of such high-end consumables must have the agreement signature of the patient, and payment cannot be made while the patient is lying on the operating table.

Therefore, the hospital’s actions violated the law, and Mr. Jin should be compensated to a certain extent. Next, the surgery must be performed strictly according to the requirements. The scalpel cannot be used as a tool to make money. After listening to the description of the Health and Medical Commission’s staff, Mr. Jin fully understood.

The hospital said that it would later compensate some amount to Mr. Jin. But the process that Mr. Jin had to go through left many people speechless.

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