Aiming to test the capabilities of China's medical laboratories, a journalist for China Central Television (CCTV) submitted "urine samples" that were actually green tea for analysis at several private hospitals.
He was stunned when the results came in. A hospital in Hebei Province said the "urine" contained an elevated white blood cell count, indicating prostratitis, which would cost $602 to cure.
At a Liaoning Province hospital, the green-tea analysis resulted in a diagnosis of spermatoceles (testicular cysts), requiring surgery that would cost $785.
A hospital in Jilin Province urged the reporter to undergo a thorough health examination priced at$1,256.
The CCTV story prompted netizens to post about similar experiences.
"Two doctors in a Shijiazhuang (Hebei Province) hospital told me that I had lung cancer and needed to be treated immediately, but then a Beijing hospital said I'm just having a cold," wrote one microblogger.
Official media sources quoted medical professionals who were less sympathetic to the CCTV experiment.
"Equipment is designed to check biochemical indicators like white cell counts...not checking whether it is urine or green tea," a Shanghai doctor said.
In 2007, a journalist for a Hangzhou (Zhejiang Province) media agency submitted ten samples of green tea to ten hospitals for urinalysis, which returned six false positives.
Sources: The Beijing News (新京报), Shanghai Daily
From the China Corruption Digest Rx Edition (available here).