The district health department has made it mandatory for private hospitals to not charge more than Rs. 600 for a dengue test.
The department has allowed private hospitals to conduct only one dengue test - NS1 rapid antigen test. The test diagnoses the infection at an early stage and saves patients from spending extra on a second test.
If the result of the NS1 rapid antigen test is positive, the blood sample has to be sent to the government-run civil hospital for further analysis, health officials said.
There are two types of antigen test kits for dengue -- NS1 elisa and NS1 rapid antigen. The former is considered more accurate but is costlier and more time consuming. The second test requires lesser time and is recommended at most private facilities.
According to the Health department officials many private hospitals tell patients to undertake both tests and charge them around Rs 2,500 or even more in some cases.
“We have decided to put a ceiling on the maximum amount private hospitals can charge as conducting both the tests are not necessary. All hospitals have been directed to conduct only one test and start treating the patient based on its results. For further tests, blood samples can be sent to the civil hospital,” an official of the civil hospital said.
The department has also made it mandatory for private hospitals to display information on cost of dengue tests and norms introduced by the authorities on their notice boards.
Health officials said the NSI rapid antigen test is to be conducted on dengue patients suffering from fever for less than five days.