On Tuesday morning, 28-year-old Naveen Kumar died in a private corporate hospital in Secunderabad while undergoing treatment for Covid-19. As the hospital charged Rs 11.5 lakh bill for the treatment, the patient’s family who had earlier paid Rs 6.5 lakh against the bill asked the hospital staff to keep the dead body against the pending amount, Telugu daily Sakshi reported.
As the family protested in front of the hospital demonstrating their helplessness, the management asked them to pay Rs 20,000 and handed over Naveen Kumar’s dead body to them.
This is one of the many such cases of distress among families approaching private corporate hospitals in Telangana capital for coronavirus treatment in the last few weeks.
On the other hand, the number of Covid-19 positive cases have been rising in the state with nearly 90% of cases being reported in Greater Hyderabad Municipal Corporation (GHMC). On July 7, the state reported 1879 new positive cases and seven deaths taking the total number of reported cases in the state to 27,612 and death toll to 313. A total of 1,6287 are recovered.
Meanwhile, the Telangana High Court on Tuesday questioned the state government on a petition alleging that private hospitals were excessively charging from COVID-19 patients beyond rates fixed by the government.
While hearing a public interest litigation (PIL) filed by by advocate Srikishan Sharma seeking directions to the state government to “take action against the private hospitals for charging exorbitant and issuing guidelines for maintaining transparency in the matter of treatment and billing against all the patients,” a division bench comprising Chief Justice Raghvendra Singh Chauhan and Justice B Vijaysen Reddy had issued notices to the state and central governments, and four private corporate hospitals including Medicover hospital, Yashoda Super Specialty hospital, Sunshine hospital and Care hospital in Hyderabad.
The case has been posted for July 14.
“Corporate hospitals overcharging for Covid-19 treatment is not surprising,” says Sharada, a Hyderabad-based senior doctor, but “their exploitation of patients has only increased during this pandemic.”
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As per the state government order (GO 248) put out on June 15, the state government has fixed a ceiling on prices chargeable for COVID-19 treatment by private hospitals. Accordingly, charges for routine ward and isolation are fixed at Rs 4,000 per day and charges for ICU with ventilator and isolation is fixed at Rs 9,000 per day.
“Common people are struggling to even get tested for the virus or to find an ambulance to reach hospitals in times of emergencies. Many patients have died after being rejected for treatment by private hospitals,” said Sharada while adding that the state government has failed in assuring its people of overcoming the virus.
In another case, a government doctor in Hyderabad was allegedly charged Rs 1.19 lakh for one day of treatment for COVID-19 by a private hospital. Reportedly, Doctor Sultana, who works at Hyderabad’s Fever hospital was detained by the staff of Thumbay hospital in the city when she refused to pay the overcharged bill for Covid-19. The doctor's video explaining her ordeal has gone viral.
Telangana Junior Doctors Association (TJUDA) and the Telangana Government Doctors Association have demanded action against the private hospital. Presently, Sultana is admitted in the Nizam Institute of Medical Sciences hospital.
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