Critical care at Tianjin's First Central Hospital and the fourth modernization

See allHide authors and affiliations

Science  20 Aug 1982:
Vol. 217, Issue 4561, pp. 700-705
DOI: 10.1126/science.7100911


This case study of the Critical Care Unit at Tianjin's First Central Hospital, its physician-director, and one of its patients provides a portrait of how the policy of the four modernizations is being applied to the field of medicine in the People's Republic of China. On this unit of an urban hospital the "fourth modernization," science and technology, is systematically brought to bear on the problems of critically ill patients. The Chinese dualities and dilemmas that this "scaling the heights" policy entails are continually played out on the Critical Care Unit. An intricate balancing is involved between modern Western and traditional Chinese medicine, and between rural public health programs and primary and tertiary care services, within a medical morality framework that combines present-day political ideology with age-old ethical precepts. At this juncture the overall balance seems to be moving in the direction of modern, city-based, curative medicine.