August 7, 2020 1:03:34 am
A three-member committee set up on the directions of the Divisional Commissionerate on Thursday issued notices to four private hospitals for alleged irregularities, and sought explanations from them within a week.
The committee headed by N Ashok Babu, an IRS officer, was appointed to conduct inspections at private hospitals regarding allegations of Covid-19 patients being given inflated bills, and other irregularities. A team of doctors and officials are assisting the committee.
The committee issued notices to Aditya Birla Hospital, D Y Patil Hospital, Citi Care Hospital and Star Multispeciality Hospital. “We have issued notices to hospitals in connection with overbilling and for admitting asymptomatic patients, which is against stipulated government norms,” Babu told The Indian Express.
“Many issues were observed by the team, including levying of extra charges like initial charges, X-ray charges, pharmacy charges… The patients were also billed for providing masks, PPE kits and other things…,” said PCMC Deputy Auditor Kishore Shinge, who is assisting the government panel.
Significantly, the committee has asked the hospitals to return the extra amount to patients who were overcharged for medical facilities. “We have asked the hospitals to recalculate their bills and return that amount to the patient, which they were not supposed to be billed for,” stated the committee.
Besides the alleged billing violations, the committee said the hospitals are not supposed to admit those with mild Covid symptoms or those who are asymptomatic. “However, the committee noticed that even those who are asymptomatic have been admitted to the hospitals, which is again a violation of the norms,” said Babu.
The committee also directed all hospitals not to demand advance deposit from Covid-19 patients. “The priority for hospitals should be to admit the patients first and then inform the relatives about the treatment and billing aspect,” the committee said.
The committee said it will regularly visit various hospitals in Pimpri-Chinchwad and conduct inspection and investigation. “We appeal to hospitals to ensure that the patients are billed as per government rates. And the rate cards should be displayed at a prominent place in the hospital premises. We urge the hospitals to set up separate entry and exit points for the patients,” said Babu.
Rekha Dubey, CEO of Aditya Birla Hospital, said they will reply to the notice issued by the committee within the stipulated time. The D Y Patil Hospital administration said it will go through the notice and issue an appropriate response.
“Other hospitals have also said that they will respond to the notice soon,” said PCMC officials.
PCMC Commissioner Shravan Hardikar said,”We had also set up flying squads to conduct inspections of the hospitals. This was done after repeated complaints from relatives of the patients and people’s representatives regarding inflated bills charged by private hospitals. Following the state government’s directions, the divisional commissionerate appointed a special committee. We will be taking action against hospitals which are found guilty of violating government norms”.
District Collector Naval Kishore Ram said the committee is expected to strictly monitor private hospitals. “We hope relatives of patients will also approach the committee if they are being overbilled. We want to streamline the functioning of hospitals, ” he said.
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