Original title: Failure to “die” within 48 hours is considered to be rejected as a work-related injury, which is a challenge to the bottom line of human relations
Text | Xu Yuan
Recently, the media reported that Ma Dianchen, the guard of a heating company in Harbin, suffered a cerebral hemorrhage in the company’s mail room on March 12, 2021, and was rushed to the hospital. A few hours after being sent to the hospital, the doctor concluded that Ma Dianchen was brain-dead and could only rely on a ventilator to maintain his vital signs. Ma Dianchen’s wife Liu Xingping did not unplug the ventilator within 48 hours in order to let her daughter who was working in other places come back to see her father one last time. Because of this, Ma Dianchen’s death was not identified as a work-related injury by the local Human Resources and Social Security Department.
The “Regulations on Work Injury Insurance” stipulates that an employee “who dies of a sudden illness during working hours and at his job position or dies within 48 hours after rescue is invalid shall be regarded as a work-related injury.” Whether it is the Harbin Human Resources and Social Security Department or the court of first and second instance, both It is believed that Ma Dianchen was extubated 61 hours after a sudden illness, exceeding the 48-hour time limit, which did not meet the provisions of the work-related injury regulations and should not be identified as a work-related injury. Liu Xingping had a hard time accepting this.
Image source: Phoenix Weekly
Liu Xingping had not considered the 48-hour time limit for work-related injury identification before. After the doctor concluded that her husband was brain dead, it was an extremely difficult decision for her to take off the ventilator. If you don’t pull it out, you can’t get hundreds of thousands of workers’ compensation. Pull, she couldn’t bear it. Judging from the news reports, Liu Xingping and her husband Ma Dianchen and his wife were deeply in love. Who would have thought that her husband’s condition was so menacing that he disappeared in the blink of an eye. For a while, Liu Xingping had a hard time accepting this cruel fact. Therefore, even if the doctor advised her to unplug the ventilator, the hospital cost of tens of thousands of yuan a day is not a small number for her, and she is still reluctant to give up. Even after the daughter came back, in order to accompany her husband more conveniently, she and her daughter transferred Ma Dianchen to a smaller hospital and chatted with him beside the hospital bed, once fantasizing that a miracle would happen. It was not until she finally accepted the fact that her husband had died that she decided to pull out the ventilator.
At this time, 61 hours have passed since her husband became ill. Judging from the regulations, the relevant departments will not recognize work-related injuries based on the time the hospital declared the death. There is evidence to follow, and there seems to be no problem. However, from the point of view of human affection and human nature, it is really cruel not to be recognized. Ma Dianchen clearly died of brain death within 48 hours, and the hospital’s rescue medical records can prove that his wife Liu Xingping postponed the extubation because he wanted to see his daughter one last time, and because he didn’t want to say goodbye to her husband so hastily. Considering the fact that there is no possibility of survival after the patient’s brain death, and sympathetic to the family members’ unbearable and reluctant feelings, can’t the relevant departments and courts be flexible?
Although the legal provisions seem to be rigid, in judicial practice, considering the specific circumstances and human nature, there are many flexible cases. In 2016, Liang in Guangxi was on a business trip and had a sudden illness on the way back. The doctor diagnosed him with brain stem hemorrhage and stopped breathing. He could only rely on machines to maintain his vital signs. After more than ten days of rescue, the family gave up treatment. At the beginning, Liang’s death was not identified as a work-related injury by the local social security department. The family appealed to the court, and the court upheld the family’s claim in the first instance. The local Human Resources and Social Security Department appealed to the higher court, and the family lost the case in the second instance. However, the Guangxi High Court finally decided to uphold the original judgment of the first instance.
Let’s look at another case. In 2013, Zhong Mou from Ganzhou, Jiangxi suddenly fell to the ground at work. A few hours after he was sent to the hospital, his breathing stopped and his right pupil was dilated. Since then, he has been maintained by a ventilator and has no spontaneous breathing. Five days after being sent to the hospital, the hospital declared that the rescue was ineffective and died. The local human resources and social security department also refused to recognize the work-related injury on the grounds that it exceeded 48 hours. The court of second instance held that, in principle, if the rescue time exceeds 48 hours, it cannot be identified as a work-related injury. However, if the employee has determined that there is no possibility of survival within 48 hours, but the family does not give up the rescue, and the continuous rescue causes the death time to exceed 48 hours, the employee should be identified as a work injury.
That is to say, although the time of brain death is not clearly recognized by the law, based on the principle of benefiting the laborers, the relevant departments can favor the laborers when determining. In reality, there are no conditions for flexibility. As stated by the court of second instance in the above case, the time of death of an employee cannot be determined mechanically at any time by the death certificate. A lawful and reasonable decision.
Liu Xingping said that she never regretted her decision at the time, and she also firmly believed that her husband’s condition would definitely be identified as a work-related injury in the future. Her optimism comes from an ordinary person’s simple belief in the law and the principles of heaven, that is, the law should not let people fall into extreme moral dilemmas, and should not let people make their own They can’t forgive their cold decisions. Rationally, she knew that her husband had died, and extubating the tube one minute earlier and one minute later could not reverse the outcome. But letting daughters see their father one last time and giving them more time to say goodbye to their husbands is of great significance to her, her daughters, and even her husband who died in a hurry. This is an indispensable ritual in the lives of ordinary people, and they should not For this perfectly normal appeal, the loss of a high amount of work-related injury compensation.
When Ma Dianchen fell ill, he was in the company’s mail room. Image source: Phoenix Weekly
Of course, workers’ compensation is not a benefit that everyone is born with, and it cannot be paid indefinitely. The original design of the law also had its own considerations. In the beginning, work-related injuries only recognized work-related diseases and causes of death. Later, considering that it was quite difficult to prove that sudden diseases were related to work, it was extended to “death at work and during working hours are regarded as work-related injuries.” The scope cannot be expanded indefinitely. In order to seek a balance, legislators may have made 48-hour restrictive provisions from the perspective of operability.
But so many years of practical experience have shown that if the identification of work-related injuries is mechanically limited to 48 hours, it will not only ignore the reality and be unfair, but may also lead to moral hazard. It is not excluded that some employers deliberately prolong meaningless rescue in order to avoid compensation, and relatives give up treatment prematurely in order not to exceed the time limit when the hope of rescue is uncertain.
The case of Ma Dianchen once again made the public worry about the ethical risks of the 48-hour time limit. How to change this controversial clause so as to take into account the balance of interests between workers, employers and social insurance funds is a test of the wisdom of the legislators. But at least in Ma Dianchen’s case, it is not difficult for the administrative department and judicial organ to make a judgment that is in line with the people’s hearts based on the principle of seeking truth from facts and protecting the interests of workers. It is hoped that Liu Xingping’s wish will come true as soon as possible, and the deceased can rest in peace as soon as possible.