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Delhi govt caps dengue test rates at private hospitals

delhi Updated: Sep 17, 2015 09:45 IST
Rhythma Kaul
Rhythma Kaul
Hindustan Times
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An overcrowded emergency ward at the Dr Ram Manohar Lohia Hospital where patients are forced to share a bed. (Saumya Khandelwal/HT Photo)

As the dengue outbreak worsens, the Delhi government has directed private hospitals to cap the rates of tests and asked them to add 10% extra beds. They have also been told to charge half of the hospital’s minimum bed charge for patients on additional beds.

While government hospitals conduct the tests — Elisa-based NS1-antigen, dengue antibody and platelet count checks — for free, the AAP government asked private hospitals not to charge more than Rs 50 for the platelet count test and Rs 600 for the other two tests. The government says complaints should be registered on the dengue helpline ‘1031’ in case hospitals are found to be overcharging.

“Private hospitals will have to charge half of the hospitals’ lowest charge for an additional bed,” Delhi health minister Satyendar Jain said on Wednesday.

Read: Civic bodies under-reporting dengue toll, hospital data show

The government has also initiated action against nine chemists who were found selling non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs such as aspirin, disprin, brufen, voveran, combiflam etc., known to bring down the platelet count, without a doctor’s prescription.

“Please do not self-medicate, and also do not pressurise your doctor for admission. Let the doctor take a call on this based on your condition,” Jain said.

Meanwhile, the directorate of health services (DHS) that is tracking the disease refused to term this an outbreak.

“This is not an outbreak, just an upsurge. The numbers are undoubtedly high this year and we have made adequate arrangements in our hospitals to tackle the patient load like putting extra beds, cancelling leaves of doctors and paramedics and we have also curtailed routine activity such as elective procedures till dengue cases get reported,” said Dr Charan Singh, additional director (public health), DHS.

With the number of people affected by dengue officially touching 66, the city is seeing a rush of people at its hospitals.

Of the 500 samples collected by the department till September 15, 66 have tested positive for NS1 Elisa test. However, private hospitals in the city continue to treat patients on the basis of NS1 Rapid test, which is not as reliable as the former one.

Doctors said the measures have come in a little too late.

“We are in the middle of a crisis. Control measures should have been started three months back. You can’t put a team together overnight. With beds one needs trained staff, drip stands etc.,” said a senior doctor at RML Hospital, requesting anonymity.

An analysis of data from various hospitals show dengue figures in the Capital may have been grossly under-reported.

Eight government hospitals have reported 13 deaths as on Saturday, but the municipal corporations have confirmed just five.

Data from the civic bodies, which collate information from all private and government hospitals, clinics and nursing homes across the Capital, confirms just 1,872 dengue cases. This figure seems grossly low as data from eight government hospitals here alone account for 1,850 cases.

Read:‘No hospital had a bed for my son’: Dengue victim's father

Dengue outbreak: Kejriwal conducts surprise checks at Delhi hospitals

Dengue outbreak: 5 things that you must know about the disease