HYDERABAD: In a clear case of misinformation, 10 persons who were treated for Covid-19 turned up at five small private hospitals in Siddipet on Tuesday, demanding refund of the excess fee they paid for treatment in those hospitals.
These hospitals are parts of the Telangana Hospitals and Nursing Homes Association (THANA) which contacted its head office in Hyderabad to verify if there are any orders issued with regards to the refund of fee. In fact, there is no government order for refund but respective legal teams are looking into complaints on a case-to-case basis.
In a back-to-back online meeting in Hyderabad, members of small hospitals condemned this action in the district and wanted to know on what basis this was being done.
Dr C.R.K. Prasad, senior member of THANA said, "Revenue officials are calling the patients and their relatives stating that they are going to be refunded but it is wrong. There was commotion at the hospitals. On what basis is it being done as there are no orders from the government? When the rates of the government are not feasible, the authorities have been apprised of the same and the association is waiting for them to get back."
In Hyderabad and on its outskirts, 14 hospitals have been barred from treating Covid-19 patients due to complaints of overcharging against them. Senior officials of both small and multi-specialty hospitals say that they have kept a legal team ready to deal with these problems.
A senior hospital director on condition of anonymity said, "There is an observation by the High Court on the fees that are charged by private hospitals. There exists proof of high oxygen prices, medical devices and manpower costs that have been incurred by hospitals in treating patients. These documents will be produced to make the picture clear of the real costs incurred in treating moderate, serious and critical patients."
There are a total of 22 hospitals in the state which have been debarred from treating Covid-19 patients on complaints of 174 people. Covid-19 patients who are coming to hospitals which are not allowed to treat are referred to those hospitals where the treatment is presently available. This is leading to inconvenience of patients who are often coming via reference from their relatives and recovered patients.
Dr V. Rakesh of Telangana Small Hospitals Association says, "It is the patient who is suffering as they have to first find out which private hospital has the license to treat and which does not. Till May end, they were aware of the hospitals treating Covid-19 but now there is confusion. This affects the infected patients who need care and family members are anxious as they have to go around hospitals. Blaming doctors and hospitals does not help during the pandemic as we have to first get the situation under control."
Many hospital authorities say the government officials are making them scapegoats and diverting attention of the public from their inadequacies.
To control the outrage of the public, they are trying to show that refund is the way forward. But private hospitals are gearing up to fight legally as they claim that they are not wrong. With most hospitals debarred on the basis of complaints of some patients, it has evoked a strong resistance from them. In the end, it is the patient who suffers as private hospitals will be very cautious and not want to risk themselves in tackling severe and critical cases.