Baidu has landed in hot water again for placing misleading advertisements after a woman, identified as Zhang Rui, underwent an operation at a hospital she found on the Chinese search engine and committed suicide after.
The 27-year-old woman jumped from her apartment window in September less than a month after she went to Urumqi Edward Hospital in Xinjiang Uygur for a procedure on her nose.
Baidu had ranked the hospital at the top of a list that specialized in treating nasal conditions, Zhang’s fiancé, Yang Weifang, told China Daily.
The woman’s parents are now demanding 674,000 yuan ($98,000) in compensation in a lawsuit filed against Edward Hospital and Baidu.
Last Wednesday, a lawyer for the hospital contacted Hong Li, the attorney representing the family, to try an reach a settlement, but they reportedly were “not interested in reconciliation and will continue with the lawsuit”.
Zhang had been experiencing sinus problems due to rhinitis and visited Edward Hospital on August 27 for treatment before her wedding day.
She went under the knife that same day, but Yang said his fiancé suffered from acute pain and nosebleeds, and couldn’t sleep for three days following the surgery.
The family’s lawyer said she became depressed and was diagnosed with a psychological disorder after visiting Urumqi Fourth People’s Hospital.
Zhang fell to her death two days later in Urumqi, with her family suspecting that she may have committed suicide.
According to Hong, Zhang wasn’t properly diagnosed and treated by Edward Hospital, which didn’t provide anything for side effects from the surgery.
Zhu Wei, a law researcher at the China University of Political Science and Law, told China Daily that paid online search services are considered advertising in China, and search engines such as Baidu should clearly label any paid listings.
Under Chinese law, search engines are also required to inspect advertisers for certificates and are prohibited from displaying false information.
Zhang’s case comes nearly a year after an investigation into Baidu over the death of 21-year-old college student Wei Zexi, from Shaanxi, who was diagnosed with a rare form of cancer called synovial sarcoma.
Before his death on April 12, he found a hospital in Beijing via Baidu that offered treatment for his condition, according to the New York Times.