General Practice doctor
File photo: Doctor's office iStock

A doctor in China died from a stroke after suddenly collapsing in front of a patient after 18 straight hours on shift, local reports said. Named as Dr Zhao Bianxiang, the doctor had finished seeing outpatients and had begun visiting wards when she reportedly collapses around midday on Friday 29 December.

After attempting to save her, colleagues had to pronounce Zhao dead in the early hours of 30 December. Shanxi Evening News, quoted in the Mail Online, reported that Zhao worked in the Department of Respiratory Care in Yuci District Hospital in the city of Jinzhong, Shanxi province.

Zhao, 43, had reportedly begun work at 6pm on Thursday 28 December, a full 18 hours before she fatally collapsed. On colleague said that winter brings extremely busy schedules for doctors working in respiratory care, leaving doctors rarely able to make it out of work on time.

"Dr Zhao was really too tired," they told local media. Reports said that Zhao heart rate had suddenly declined and experts from nearby cities were brought in to try and save her. A local reporter told the Mail how Zhao's elderly mother held her daughter's hand and weeped as she and Zhao's father came to her bedside in the early hours of Saturday morning.

Colleagues described Zhao as a caring person, never faultering to help another doctor who asked. Emergency staff worked for 20 hours attempting to save her before she was pronounced dead.

Overworking is a seriously issue in China with one report from the Xinhau news agency estimating that 600,000 people a year die from exhaustion each year in the country of over 1.3 billion people. The stress and exertion caused by this constant need to push one's body can lead to severe medical issues.