HAVING kept a patient in the hospital for 50 days owing to non-payment of her medical bill, Kalyan-based Sree Devi Hospital finally discharged Shanta Gopal Singh after taking a written undertaking from her that she would clear the dues within two months. On December 21, The Indian Express reported that Singh, a typist, was admitted in the private hospital after getting hit by a bus in a road accident on August 28. Among multiple surgeries on her right leg, three major surgeries were done for skin grafting, which brought the bill to Rs 6.85 lakh. While the family was able to pay Rs 1 lakh funded from a trust and Rs 70,000 after borrowing money from relatives, they fell short of Rs 4.5 lakh after subtracting concessions. While her treatment was completed on November 4, the 43-year-old Dombivli resident was asked to remain in the hospital until her husband managed to clear the hospital dues.
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“They had stationed a security guard to keep an eye on me so that I don’t escape. I lost one and half months lying there,” Shanta, who was discharged on Monday night, said. She said no treatment was given to her since November but a nurse would routinely check if she was lying on the hospital bed. According to the family, they were also asked to pay for the hospital bed for the one-and-a-half months Shanta was forced to spend here, after they waived the initial cost for the first week.
Shanta’s husband Gopal Singh Gariya (46) had to quit his job three months ago to look after her. According to Advocate Masood Peshimam, representing Singh in the case, the Mahatma Phule police refused to file an FIR in the case.
“We had approached the hospital several times to amicably discharge the patient and have trust that the family would clear the bill. The patient also claims they have been over-charged,” he said. The hospital has now cut the final bill to Rs 3.95 lakh and given two months to the family to clear it. According to Singh, he was told by doctors that the treatment would cost an estimated Rs 2 lakh.Hospital administrator Anita Bhatt, however, claims that the patient’s family was informed about the cost involved before every surgery.
“We also helped them get money through the chief minister’s relief fund,” she said, adding that a post-dated cheque for February has been taken from the patient. Even as the family alleged that they were being over-charged, the private hospital has claimed it is difficult to treat patients who later refuse to pay bills. “We gave the best medical care. As per hospital policy, we cannot discharge a patient until they pay the bills,” Bhatt said.