‘Excessive billing’: Hyd pvt hospital barred from Covid treatment

Hyderabad, Aug 3 (IANS) Finally cracking the whip after a plethora of complaints against private hospitals treating Covid-19 patients, the Telangana government on Monday revoked permission given to a hospital for Covid treatment, creating hopes of strong action against others fleecing the people.

Director of Public Health and Family Welfare G. Srinivas Rao issued orders cancelling the permission to Deccan Hospital in Hyderabad, for charging patients exorbitantly by flouting the ceiling fixed by the government for treatment charges.

He said several complaints were received against the hospital and the District Medical and Health Officer, Hyderabad, during his enquiry, found that the hospital flouted the ceiling fixed by the government.

Rao ordered that the hospital should not admit any new Covid-19 patient and also should treat those already admitted as per the tariffs fixed by the government. He warned that in the event of the hospital not following the orders, its license will be cancelled.

The action against the Deccan Hospital came after an advocate lodged a police complaint that he was allegedly detained and forced to pay Rs 3.60 lakh though he had tested negative for Covid-19.

The action came more than one and a half months after the government fixed the tariff for testing and treatment of Covid cases in private hospitals.

There have been several complaints against corporate hospitals like refusing admissions, charging excessively in violation of government orders and even refusing to hand over bodies of the victims to the families for non-payment of bills.

At least five patients died in separate incidents as they were denied admission and made to run from one hospital to the other.

A youth had tweeted to Industry Minister K.T. Rama Rao last week that a private hospital charged Rs 40 lakh for treatment of his parents and brother, who all succumbed.

Relatives of some victims and activists had moved the High Court over fleecing by the private hospitals and even the court had pulled up the health authorities for taking no action against the erring hospitals.

The action against Deccan Hospital came a day after Health Minister E. Rajender had warned that action would be taken against those harassing and exploiting the patients. He had also said that a Covid patient can be treated for Rs 10,000.

“If we keep aside medicines like Remdesivir, Tosilizumab and Favipiravir, the treatment of Covid-19 is possible within Rs 10,000 with medicines and oxygen and if an advanced treatment is required it can cost a maximum Rs 1 lakh. It does not require daily Rs 1 lakh or Rs 2 lakh,” the minister said.

Rajender said since people were scared, private hospitals were making them pay in advance for allocation of beds and Rs 1 lakh daily for treatment. “It’s unfortunate that they are charging Rs 10 lakh to Rs 15 lakh,” he said.

The minister had also said that they were receiving complaints like the hospitals creating artificial shortage of beds, demanding Rs 3-4 lakh advance payment, charging Rs 1-2 lakh per day for treatment, not releasing the body unless bills were cleared, treating asymptomatic cases, inflating their medical bills and dumping patients in government hospitals once their conditions turned serious.

The minister advised people not to rush to private hospitals in panic but seek treatment in government hospitals which were providing better treatment both in districts and in Hyderabad.

The government had said in June that Covid-19 test in a private hospital in Telangana will cost Rs 2,200 while treatment will cost anywhere between Rs 4,000 to Rs 9,000 per day.

As per the tariff fixed by the government, treatment in general isolation will cost Rs 4,000 daily and in Intensive Care Unit (ICU) without a ventilator Rs 7,500. Those on a ventilator can be charged Rs 9,000 per day. It also made it clear that hospitals will be free to charge separately for antiviral drugs administered to a patient.

Most of the hospitals, however, flouted the tariff and charged excessively.

It was only a week ago that the government, on the direction of the High Court, started providing information about bed status in both government and private hospitals in the daily media bulletin.

As per the bulletin issued on Monday, 94 private hospitals were offering Covid-19 treatment and out of 6,599 beds available in these hospitals, 2,520 were vacant.

However, the situation on the ground is different. There have been allegations that the hospitals are refusing to admit ordinary patients citing lack of beds while reserving beds for VIPs, those coming with recommendations and those having health insurance cover as the government tariff will not be applicable in such cases.

Almost all the private hospitals are located in and around Hyderabad.

Deccan Hospital had a total of 50 Covid-19 beds. According to the bulletin on Monday, 26 beds at this facility were occupied.

After the action against Deccan Hospital, relatives of the victims were hoping that authorities would also crack the whip against other erring hospitals including some big and powerful entities.

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