Minitrue: Downplay Surgeons’ Selfie

The following instructions, issued to the media by government authorities, have been leaked and distributed online. The name of the issuing body has been omitted to protect the source.

Take care to control negative commentary on the news of “doctors taking a selfie at the operating table.” Do not excessively hype content on doctor-patient relations. (December 23, 2014)

有关“医生手术台自拍”的新闻注意对负面评论进行控制, 医患关系内容不要过度炒作。 [Chinese]

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The offending photo. (人民日报/Weibo)

A photo of surgeons posing around an anesthetized patient on the operating table made the rounds on Weibo on December 21. The photo was taken at a private hospital in Xi’an this August to commemorate the final surgery in that operating theater. Using the hashtag “operating table selfie” (#手术台拍照#), Weibo users shared mixed reactions, writes Ryan Kilpatrick at That’s Online:

Besides outrage over the apparent flippancy shown toward a matter of life and death and a lack of respect for the patient, hospital staff were also accused of disregarding hygiene regulations, pulling down their face masks to show off their beaming smiles.

[…] The doctors were not without their defenders, however. Many web users argued that it was touching how happy they were after a successful operations (“happier than the patient’s own family”) and that their essential and high-pressure jobs merited some down to let their hair down and relax, and we shouldn’t add to their stress. [Source]

The selfie has emerged during a period of distrust of the system. Frustrated patients have violently attacked doctors in the last few years.

Sonali Kohli and Gwynn Guilford at Quartz report that the photo was taken after the surgery team saved the patient’s maimed leg, which would have been amputated in many other .

真Since directives are sometimes communicated orally to journalists and editors, who then leak them online, the wording published here may not be exact. The date given may indicate when the directive was leaked, rather than when it was issued. CDT does its utmost to verify dates and wording, but also takes precautions to protect the source.