Vijayawada: Nearly 65 private hospitals have been booked for a series of violations including excess charges, black marketing of remdesivir vials, denial of Arogyasri scheme etc while providing medical treatment to the Coronavirus-infected patients in Andhra Pradesh.
Action was initiated on 65 private hospitals based on a report from the vigilance and enforcement authorities as on May 25. Inspection at one hospital was still in progress.
Major irregularities noticed at these hospitals were misappropriation of remdesivir vials (like showing admission of patients for requiring remdisivir vials even as there was no requirement) and procuring such vials from the government to be used for other patients by collecting exorbitant rates; collection of excess charges beyond prescribed rates; and non-issue of bills for payment for treatment, among other unacceptable irregularities.
There were other cases like denial/discouragement of treatment under Arogyasri scheme, refusal to treat Covid patients, non-supply of remdesivir vials despite requirement, demanding money for release of bodies of the dead; providing treatment as private patients despite being eligible for Arogyasri scheme, so as to charge more; misplacement of remdesivir vials; treatment after denotification; treating patients without having recognition; selling oxygen cylinders at rates as high as `60,000 to `70,000 illegally; charging as high as `25,000 per patient for ICU per day without bills, and so on. Action was taken against such hospitals, the government said on Friday.
Among the districts where the private hospitals were booked for violations, Visakhapatnam had the dubious distinction for having highest number of 12 hospitals being booked. This was followed by 10 hospitals in Krishna, nine in Guntur, six each in Nellore, Chittoor and East Godavari, five in West Godavari, four in Kadapa, three each in Anantapur and Prakasam and one each in Srikakulam, Vizianagaram and Kurnool.
The cases were booked under sections of IPC, sections 51 (a) (b) and 53 of the Disaster Management Act and under relevant provisions of Epidemic Diseases Act, 1987.
Chief Minister Jaganmohan Reddy has been repeatedly asking officials to act firmly against the private hospitals that fail to provide proper Covid care and involve in violations of any nature.
The state government has already constituted district-level teams with officials from various departments mainly from vigilance, police, health, drugs and others by appointing nodal officers to inspect the hospitals and track every detail in providing treatment to the Covid patients.
It has also fixed maximum rates for treatment and for non-critical care Covid treatment at `4,000, to be charged per day in NABH hospitals, and `3,600 for non NABH hospitals, `6,500 for non-critical treatment with O2; critical treatment with ICU with NIV at `12,000 and `10,800, and treatment with ICU and invasive ventilator support at `16,000 and `14,400 while remdisivir injections are to be charged at `2,500 and tocilizumab at `30,000 per vial as per the GO185 issued on April 30.
However, as there was no let-up in such violations, the state government issued GO256 on Friday to prosecute the hospitals for repeat offence if they flout norms under provisions of IPC and also under Clinical Establishment Act, unlike the earlier system of levying a penalty by 10 times the additional charges collected from the patients for every first violation.
Some private doctors said the state government was having every right to penalise and prosecute the hospitals that flout norms but urged it to not discourage those who are genuinely providing care by risking their own lives.
Indian Medical Association national chairman Dr D. Srihari Rao said, “We appeal to the state government to take action on erring hospitals but let it not penalise any hospital even for first offence and instead bring about more awareness on norms.”...