A private company, which was given a contract to carry out dialysis under the Ayushman Bharat scheme, made fake bills amounting to Rs 2.98 lakh of nearly 175 such procedures in the name of four patients, who had already died of renal complications between December 2019 and April this year, and had once undergone dialysis at Jamui Sadar Hospital.
The matter came to light during an internal audit of Ayushman Bharat in May, with the Fraud Wing under the scheme contacting the families of the four deceased patients in Jamui, Munger and Lakhisarai districts, and later alerting the Jamui district administration to look into the matter.
M/S B Braun Medical India, which was running dialysis centres in 17 districts across Bihar under the scheme, has completed its contract period with no renewal. While the firm immediately terminated two staffers manning the dialysis centre at the Jamui Sadar Hospital, it did not take any responsibility for the lack of monitoring.
Under the scheme, a photograph of the patient on bed has to be uploaded with details of admission and discharge and the private company is reimbursed Rs 1,666 for each dialysis. Every dialysis has to be approved by a doctor at Sadar Hospital, even if a patient is referred by a private doctor.
Dr Bijendra Satyarthi, Jamui Civil Surgeon cum district member secretary of the Bihar State Health Society, said, “We have found Ayushman Mitra Anup Kumar Sinha the main culprit for incorrect uploading of dialysis data… We have terminated all his contracts.”
Asked why no action was taken against any doctor as they are the ones approving dialysis procedures, Satyarthi said, “Our doctors just have to do the approval as a matter of routine. The investigation has been done as per the terms of references set by the district magistrate.”
However, Ayushman Mitra and data entry operator Anup Kumar Sinha said, “I uploaded pictures of patients sent by people at the dialysis centre. While I accept that I should have cross checked the veracity of these pictures, why could no doctor ever cross check that a patient is being impersonated… It is very easy to catch those at the last rung of the ladder.”
District programme officer Sudhanshu N Lal said, “Most cases are on referral basis. But now we are ensuring that doctors should verify the identity of each patient before referring.” He said the company has accepted its mistake but did not comment on whether it could be blacklisted for the lapse.
However, Jamui dialysis centre in-charge Balbir Kumar said, “Jamui is the only centre that reported such malpractices… Though we had been monitoring through internal software, I was not able to do physical verification because of the lockdown. But I want to submit that hospital doctors should also screen out any impersonation.”
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