By Daniel Griffiths
BBC News, Beijing
China's health ministry is calling for police to be stationed in hospitals, to protect medical workers from attacks by angry patients and their relatives.
Many patients find the cost of medical care unaffordable
Such disputes have become increasingly common in China in recent years.
The Chinese government says last year there were more than 9,000 attacks on medical workers and facilities, causing more than $25m (£12.5m) of damage.
In one well publicised incident, staff at a southern Chinese hospital had to wear safety helmets for protection.
Poor regulation has led to rampant corruption, including overcharging and use of fake medicines.
And since the introduction of market reforms many patients have found the cost of medical care unaffordable.
China's rapid economic growth has led to a big increase in the number of health problems more often associated with developed nations.
But the health service here is in crisis, and facilities and equipment are outdated and under-resourced, especially in the countryside.