This Bengaluru hospital’s Google review responses are going viral — and not for the right reasons

From sharp retorts to unexpected personal revelations, each response seems to defy the norms of professional communication

ByChetana Belagere

Published Feb 21, 2024 | 6:11 PMUpdatedFeb 21, 2024 | 9:13 PM

Athreya Hospital in Bengaluru. (Sourced)

Whether you like it or not, everything today is online. And while the internet has unmeasurable benefits, one of its biggest boons is its ability to help a user like yourself make informed decisions based on subjective feedback. Be it a restaurant you’re looking to try, a service you’re looking to avail, or even a hospital you’re thinking of visiting — you can make a decision based solely on Google reviews — aka the internet’s “word of mouth”.

While hospitals are going all out to attract positive attention everywhere, with many outsourcing Online Reputation Management (ORM) to professionals in order to put their best face forward, Bengaluru’s Athreya Hospital has unwittingly become a sensation.

Despite its lofty 4.7-star rating, the hospital’s responses to negative reviews have catapulted it into the limelight for all the wrong reasons, leaving both the medical community and the online audience in a state of disbelief.

In what can only be described as an unconventional approach, the hospital’s digital persona spares no punches in addressing patient grievances. From sharp retorts to unexpected personal revelations, each response seems to defy the norms of professional communication, straddling the fine line between amusement and concern for the online community.

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What is this all about

It all started when a disgruntled patient took to Reddit, a social news website and forum, to vent about an unpleasant experience at Athreya Hospital. The complaint revolved around a visit to see an Orthopaedic specialist, only to be turned away due to an emergency. While the patient was seen by another doctor, he was dissatisfied with the half-cocked solution to his problem.

“Went to Athreya hospital at Chandapura for seeing ortho and we paid fee and all and waited only to be informed later that he has an emergency. They made us see the duty doctor who basically didn’t know much and just prescribed a pain killer and asked to see ortho next day. The staff and the doctor refused to either refund or see the ortho free next daym the duty doctor didn’t even do any proper job,” the Reddit user posted.

However, the real shocker came to this person when they checked out the hospital’s Google reviews. Sharing a screenshot of a negative review and the hospital’s downright inappropriate response — that publicly reveals personal information — the Reddit user asks other users to leave a negative review.

Rude and unprofessional hospital.
byu/Friendly_Enemy-99 inbangalore

This post, which first went viral on Redditt with more than 1,780 shares and hundreds of comments, was later posted on X as well. There, more users began posting screenshots of the hospital’s responses to negative reviews.

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Snarky, confidentiality-violating responses

Screenshots circulating on social media depict a series of exchanges where the hospital’s replies swing from witty comebacks to the unexpected airing of personal details, transforming each review into a mini-drama.

While many of the hospital’s responses have now been deleted, South First was able to find a few still visible on Google.

One patient, who criticised the hospital for a lab technician’s inability to find a vein during a child’s blood test, received a response that not only blamed the parent for avoiding a specialist consultation but also sarcastically referred to the baby as “chubby”. The hospital, in its reply, defended the difficulty of the procedure and emphasised the need for patience, leaving the online audience astounded.

Pallav Prasun, in his one-star review left one year ago on Google, wrote, “Bad Experience.. I went there for my kids blood checkup and the lab technician were not able to find the vein and they put needles. My baby was crying with pain but they were moving needles inside his flesh in search of vein, they did same thing for both the hands but could not able to find the vein. Later when I asked them to leave then they started saying your kid is dehydrated that’s why we were not able to find the vein. I told them, if he is dehydrated then you should told me this before inserting needles. Then they were speechless. Do not visit here if you want your kids safety.”

The hospital’s response, which it claims is a reply from the technician team, read, ”Your chubby baby was very sick and dehydrated while you brought him for the laboratory tests. As you avoided the specialist consultation and brought him directly to the laboratory requesting the tests of your choice, we advised you to meet the specialist doctor before we tried collecting samples. That also avoids self-treating (google treating) which could not always become successful. But you refused to see any doctor. You wanted only tests.”

Continuing to blame the parent, the reply read, “Unfortunately, in human beings the veins don’t be dangling all over the surface of the body. We too wish to have some supernatural powers to get the desired veins appearing onto the surface just by a chant or an order. If you know some technique, kindly enlighten us. Please understand they are well buried between the flesh and have to be searched by a needle before we insert into them and collect blood.”

“Your expert doctor/nurse at your family would also often fail in such cases as it is a tough task. It is ridiculous to comment on this. Hope they understand at least. PREDICTING SUCCESS IS AS IF PREDICTING TOMORROW, WHICH IS SIMPLY IMPOSSIBLE. So, finding fault without any understanding & cooperation becomes rather easy,” it added.

“The moment you shouted aloud soon after inserting the needle, our entire team became truly speechless. Coming to your argument that we should have informed you in advance about his dehydration status, thats another tough situation for a sample collecting technician, because it needs a doctor to examine & decide. You just ignored our initial suggestion of seeing a doctor. All that we required from you was only bit of extra patience since your baby was dehydrated,” the reply said.

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Airing personal details in the reponses

Screenshot of Google review.

Screenshot of Google review.

Responding to a negative review about the front desk staff’s attitude, the hospital replied, “Mr Abhishek Sharma, you must be shameful to post this review after making such scenes. You clearly know for what and how you bargained. You wanted discount for an illegal pregnancy you made with your office colleague Miss Sharmila. You claimed to be her husband but refused to provide your ID and didn’t sign the consent forms for the termination of her pregnancy. When our staff insisted for documents you opened an argument with them and left. Hope Miss Sharmila is fine now.”

Netizens were left shocked and disgusted, and criticised the hospital for its audacity in sharing such personal information.

Responding to another review of a similar nature, the hospital accused the reviewer’s friend of a “sixth abortion in nine months”.

Another unhappy review, critiquing the hospital’s alleged financial motivations, received a sarcastic remark questioning the reviewer’s intellectual achievements.

As these audacious replies surfaced, the online community became a battleground of reactions. While some marveled at Athreya Hospital’s bold public relations strategy, others raised eyebrows at the potential breach of professional conduct and patient privacy.

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Hospital owner to ‘review’ the reviews?

The hospital, once known solely for healthcare provision, now finds itself at the epicentre of discussions surrounding digital etiquette and the challenges of maintaining a professional image in the era of instantaneous online feedback.

When approached by South First for a comment, Dr Narayanaswamy, the hospital’s owner, expressed a need to “review” the reviews. “I need to review those reviews. You know how everyone behaves,” he responded.

When asked if it was indeed the hospital that responded to those reviews, the doctor said, “A lot of patients are waiting and I will get back soon.”

Despite attempts to reach out again, the doctor has remained elusive, leaving the public intrigued about the unfolding drama at Athreya Hospital.