VIJAYAWADA: Several private hospitals continue to fleece Coronavirus infected patients to provide healthcare in parts of Andhra Pradesh.
The Coronavirus infected patients and their family members alleged that some hospitals are generating bills for Covid care as per government prescribed rates, but charging them extra and collecting cash from them and refusing to accept any online payment to avoid detection. On an average, they are charging a minimum of Rs 2.5 lakh from each patient to provide Covid care in the hospital for five to six days with a course of five shots of remdesivir injections along with other injections and medicines and some tests in the lab. If the patient requires oxygen or ventilator support and is having multiple health complications, the hospitals charge more and the bill goes up to Rs 12 lakh to even Rs 20 lakh per head.
They also alleged violation of ICMR recommended Covid protocol in providing admission to the patients by some hospitals after manipulating the vitals as they wanted more numbers of patients to be admitted for treatment.
Some of these private hospitals have set up temporary Covid care wards and hired doctors and health personnel to treat the patients. They offer financial incentives to the quacks to bring patients especially from rural areas for admission. Some quacks even set up hospitals with no registration with the health and medical authorities, by hiring doctors as consultants and started providing treatment even to the Covid-19 infected patients and in case the patients turn critical, they send them to other hospitals for treatment.
The patients also complain about poor quality of food being served at some hospitals and they want the state government to ensure quality food to be served to them as majority of them are being covered under government health schemes.
Though each hospital has a nodal officer, a cluster nodal officer and a district level flying squad to monitor it closely, some hospitals are continuing their illegal practices from the level of admission to provision of treatment to overcharging the patients undetected and their violations are having no limit at all. In a case in Kakinada in East Godavari, a private hospital was found claiming bills for treating a Covid infected patient even after his discharge from the hospital. In another case, a private hospital at Gollapudi of Vijayawada in Krishna district, treated a Covid infected patient for two days and when the patient died, it mentioned in its death summary that the patient died of cardiac arrest and when his family members questioned about it, the hospital management informed them that they were not supposed to treat a Covid patient and so they were not supposed to mention about it. For the folly of the hospital management, the deceased family members failed to get any financial benefit from the government.
A Coronavirus infected patient said, “We appeal to the state government to further streamline functioning of private hospitals to ensure quality healthcare and food to be supplied to them as the state government is paying for their treatment under various health schemes.”
The state vigilance authorities have booked over 75 private hospitals for a series of violations during the second wave of the pandemic and district authorities imposed fines worth several lakhs of rupees on these hospitals so far in the state.
Indian Medical Association AP president Dr N. Subramanyam said, “We do not encourage corrupt practices by the private hospitals in the state and we are against promotion of quackery. But we appeal to the state authorities to revise rates for Covid treatment as they are unviable and not to penalise the errant hospitals heavily and take up proper inquiry to punish them as per norms.”
Meanwhile, a private doctor admits, “We are being approached by officials from various departments for money on one pretext or the other and we appeal to the government to control such illegal practice to avoid financial burden on them.”