Child’s death drew thousands in protest at medical blunder in China

HONG KONG (Kyodo) — Thousands of people protested at a hospital in eastern China’s Jiangsu Province over an alleged medical blunder in which a boy died while receiving an intravenous drip, the second such case in 10 days, mainland media reported Monday.

More than 1,000 people gathered outside the Zhangjiagang First People’s Hospital on Sunday to mourn the death of 5-year-old Xia Chensen, with some protesters turning violent, Xinhua News Agency said.

The crowd was dispersed after mediation by government officials, the report said, and a special taskforce was set up to probe the case while several doctors and the hospital’s deputy chief were suspended.

According to online reports in mainland China, Xia was taken to the hospital by his parents on Nov. 28 with symptoms of low fever and vomiting. A doctor diagnosed him with “gastric flu” and prescribed an intravenous drip.

The boy complained of stomachache and lost consciousness soon after receiving the drip. His parents rushed him to the emergency unit but doctors failed to revive him.

The parents accused the attending doctor of fleeing the scene after failing to save the boy. The hospital chief denied the accusation and said the doctor left because she had just finished her shift.

Photographs posted on the Boxun news portal show a sea of people protesting at the hospital Sunday, facing off against hundreds of police officers in antiriot gear.

Other online photos show damage property inside the hospital building and men believed to be protesters with their faces covered in blood.

Some of the protesters were reportedly beaten by police with batons and taken away during the scuffle.

Xinhua and the municipal government did not say if anyone was injured or arrested during the protest.

“The (boy’s death) is being investigated,” a Zhangjiagang municipal publicity employee who identified herself by the surname Fang said by telephone. “A taskforce has been in place since Nov. 28 to investigate the matter. The cause of death has not been concluded.”

The Zhangjiagang hospital could not be reached for comment.

A 53-year-old man who finished a three-day intravenous drip treatment in the same hospital reportedly died in front of the hospital store shortly after he was released on Nov. 19.

Fang said the investigation is focusing on Xia’s case and not the older man’s death.

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