India’s government Tuesday ordered a probe into the death of a girl at a private hospital after her father’s social media posts alleging negligence and being overcharged went viral. The case made national headlines in a country where a crumbling and often overburdened government health facilities forces many of India’s flourishing and increasingly influential middle classes to seek out expensive private healthcare providers.
The little girl, called Adya, died in September after almost a fortnight at the Fortis Memorial Research Institute (FMRI) in Gurgaon, a satellite city of New Delhi, where she was admitted after catching dengue fever. Her father Jayant Singh since wrote a long post on social media accusing the hospital of “overcharging, negligence and greed”.
The post made national headlines, rallying those with similar stories about the country’s often corrupt and inadequate healthcare system and prompted the health minister to order an investigation. The total cost of treatment was some $24,000, a small fortune in India where the average annual wage is a tenth of that.
“Isn’t it unbelievable that they billed us for 1,500 gloves, 650 syringes many other items in just about two weeks,” Singh said in a statement. “My seven year daughter died because of the negligence of the top hospitals in India,” he added. FMRI denied being negligent or overcharging the family, saying the case was complex and required intense treatment.
“The complex treatment tendered over 15 days entails usage of large quantities of consumables and drugs which lead to a high bill,” the hospital said in a statement adding that the incident was being “misrepresented on social media”.
Nonetheless Preeti Sudan, India’s top health ministry official, ordered the local state government Tuesday to “urgently initiate an inquiry” saying such incidents have an “extremely deleterious impact” on people’s faith in the country’s healthcare system.