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Wednesday, June 23, 2021

Doctor’s widow writes to ministers alleging overcharging by Panchkula’s Paras Hospital

Speaker marks her letter for probe; hospital says patient’s family ‘knew of charges’, and ‘Haryana rates don’t apply since deceased was from Punjab’

Written by Pallavi Singhal | Panchkula |
May 26, 2021 10:07:20 am
The letter has further alleged that Aarti was “forced” to pay sums from time to time during the course of treatment, which came to a total of Rs 13.81 lakh. (Representational)

In another complaint received against Paras Hospital of Panchkula, the widow of a doctor who succumbed to Covid-19 on May 3 has alleged that the hospital overcharged her, handing her a bill of Rs 14 lakh for her husband’s treatment over 20 days.

With a 34-page bill, Aarti is now wondering how she will be able to reimburse her relatives who loaned her the money for her husband Dr Kapil Garg’s treatment.

The hospital however said that the patient’s family had been informed about the line of treatment and its charges, adding that since he was a resident of Punjab, “Haryana state package rates were not applicable”, and the May 4 circular covering Covid package rates for all domiciles was issued a day after his death.

In letters to several ministers as well as the health secretary, Aarti wrote: “Now I am the widow and mother of an only girl, Saranya, aged 13 years. My now deceased husband was admitted on April 12 and died on May 3 in Paras Hospital. During the treatment they conducted tests, used medical intensive care unit (MICU) and also the ventilator in the hospital. They did not provide adequate treatment, due to which my husband is no more.”

Paras Hospital was recently in the news after multiple patients made allegations of overcharging, which were cited by Speaker and local MLA Gian Chand Gupta in letter to Haryana Home Minister Anil Vij and Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar. A committee formed to probe the claims had stated that the hospital’s billing was not as per rates set by the Haryana government.

Aarti’s letter has also been marked for inquiry by Gupta.

The letter has further alleged that Aarti was “forced” to pay sums from time to time during the course of treatment, which came to a total of Rs 13.81 lakh. “The hospital in fact extracted huge amounts of money at their own desired rates fixed by them against the orders issued by the Haryana government in June last year, capping the daily package rates for Covid-19 treatment in private hospitals. Those rates were supposed to be part of package and inclusive of all charges. This hospital is not only violating and willfully ignoring the Haryana government’s orders, but is also extracting huge amounts from poor and deprived family members,” the letter said.

While her husband breathed his last on May 3, her mother-in-law succumbed to the virus on May 7. “It was during the treatment of my husband that I alongwith my mother-in-law as well as my daughter got infected with Covid in the hospital. As a consequence of this, my mother-in-law Raksha Rani also expired on May 7,” the letter further said.

Talking to The Indian Express, she says: “We are residing in a rented house and now have no source of income. We had wanted to take my husband to a government facility but could not find a single bed anywhere. With only a single bed available at Paras we had no option but to shift him there. They kept demanding money and I kept borrowing it and paying it forward in the hope that once my husband is well, he will take care of the finances. Little did I know I would be left all alone with no one to go to.”

Their financial situation at the time had become dire, she says: “that I had to ask my ailing mother-in-law to go to my brother-in-laws house. I could not have afforded to treat them both. With both my in-laws, my parents and now my husband dead, I have nowhere to go.”

Struggling with her own health issues, she remains worried for the future of her daughter. “She is still in school. I do not know how to even pay the rent this coming month. My diabetes is at an all-time high due to the stress and post-Covid issues. I am unemployed. No one can help me anymore. They all already gave me money for my husband’s treatment,” she added, crying.

In her letter, Aarti requested that an inquiry be initiated against the hospital “by auditing their records”, and her money be refunded. “The charged amount is against the orders and directions issued by the Haryana government. For such deeds of hospital authorities, licence should be ceased/cancelled so that they do not cheat the people and act above the orders of the government,” the letter said.

Hospital responds

Responding to the letter, Paras Hospital said: “The patient’s attendants were counselled and informed about the line of treatment and charges around it. During his treatment, a multidisciplinary team of specialists were engaged and the family was well-informed about his treatment on a regular basis.

The patient expired on May 3 unfortunately, and the circular was issued only on May 4 covering Covid package rates for all domicile. Since the patient expired before the date of issue of circular and was a resident of Bathinda, Punjab, as per identity proof provided by him, the Haryana state package rates were not applicable.

We are completely aligned with government policies and patient bills are prepared as per guidelines issued by government authorities. In this national pandemic, we are firmly standing alongside government in fighting it and serving the patients.”

The probe

On April 21, that the Haryana Health Minister Anil Vij had marked an inquiry against it. A three-member inquiry committee was formed following a complaint of overcharging Covid patients by Speaker and local MLA Gian Chand Gupta, which has been asked to submit a report within a week.

On April 18, Gupta had forwarded a complaint against Paras Hospital citing three instances to Vij as well as Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar, requesting an audit of bills of private hospitals issued to Covid patients.

“As pointed out by the committee, billing at Paras Hospital was not as per Haryana government notification for charges in Covid hospitals. This was being discussed at administrative level for appropriate action, corrective measures and procedures to ensure patients do not suffer in Covid hospitals,” Panchkula CMO Dr Jasjeet Kaur had told The Indian Express last week.

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