It seems that Baidu is not the only party facing massive scandal and investigation after the death of Wei Zexi, the hospital where Wei underwent an experimental and ineffective procedure to cure his cancer is also being attacked from all sides.
The target of a government investigation, the now-infamous No. 2 Hospital of the Beijing Armed Police Corps has suspended all of its services for new patients, including, emergency rescue, inpatient and outpatient treatment, state media reports. Meanwhile, existing patients will continue to be treated, though they are more than a little worried about outcomes and are looking for refunds.
This all comes after the death of Wei Zexi, a 21-year-old college student from Shaanxi province. Suffering from a rare form of cancer, Wei underwent a type of treatment at the Beijing hospital that used his immune cells to fight the cancer. The hospital told Wei and his family that it was a cutting-edge and highly-effective procedure that had been developed in a research collaboration with the Stanford medical school.
Only afterward did Wei learn that this was a lie. The treatment had been found not viable by Stanford and shelved; meanwhile foreign countries contested the effectiveness of the experimental treatment, which had a low record of success.
Wei’s family paid 200,000 yuan ($31,000) for the treatment, which was not successful. He passed away on April 14th. A couple of weeks later, his death has ignited a massive scandal, with state media and netizens accusing China’s top search engine, Baidu, of placing profits before the health and safety of its users after it was revealed that Wei chose the procedure after noticing a paid advertisement about it on the top of his search.
Meanwhile, cancer patients who have received treatment at the hospital’s Biological Treatment Center are feeling increasingly uneasy about the final outcomes of their own treatment. Some of their family members have even begun protesting, asking for refunds, NetEase reports.
One 63-year-old woman surnamed Lu is demanding a refund of about 30,000 yuan from the hospital, who treated her late husband suffering from liver cancer in December 2014.
“I read from a newspaper that the immunotherapy in the hospital is very advanced,” she told China Daily. “We trusted in military hospitals and did not have doubt.”
Another patient from Inner Mongolia who had recently received the same kind of immunotherapy treatment that Wei received has decided to stop treatment and is awaiting the hospital’s response about a refund.
However, the spotlight has not been fixed only on the No. 2 Hospital of the Beijing Armed Police Corp. It was later announced that the treatment had not been performed by the hospital itself, but instead was actually outsourced to a private company owned by the Putian Group, a private Fujian-based medical group, which controls 80% of China’s private hospitals, despite its unsavory reputation. Further investigation has revealed how some military hospitals have managed to make a profit via similar close relationships with private health care companies.
Turns out advertising on Baidu isn’t such a great idea after all.
[Images via NetEase]