The state government is likely to take action against certain private hospitals and nursing homes for fleecing swine flu patients.
The government’s proposed move comes after health officials found that some of these hospitals are putting H1N1 patients in the ICU and charging them around Rs. 30,000 to Rs. 40,000 per day. Apart from the ICU cost, the hospitals are also allegedly demanding Rs. 1.5 lakh to Rs. 2.5 lakh from swine flu patients for admitting them.
“Some hospitals are demanding huge sums from the patients. Our assessment says that the maximum charge for treatment of a severe respiratory-distressed patient in the ICU of a corporate hospital should be around Rs. 14,000 per day, including the cost of medicines. But they are charging around Rs. 30,000 to Rs. 40,000 per day,” a top Swasthya Bhavan official said.
Unable to bear such costs, several patients have left corporate hospitals after signing the dischargeon-risk bond (DoRB) and got themselves admitted to the state-run ID Hospital at Beliaghata. “Two swine flu patients died in the ID Hospital a couple of days ago. About a week earlier, they had got themselves admitted to corporate hospitals, but left after they could not bear the cost of treatment. Their relatives took them to the ID Hospital after signing the risk bond. The ID Hospital provides free treatment to patients. Unfortunately, despite spending lakhs of rupees, they died,” a health official said.
Sources in the health department said a minister had recently sent his relative, a swine flu suspect, to a private hospital in South Kolkata on Tuesday. The hospital demanded Rs. 1 lakh for admission.
In another instance, a senior health department official sent his relative to a private hospital at Anandapur, along the EM Bypass. The hospital demanded Rs. 2.5 lakh for admission. “Our department will launch a crackdown to streamline admissions to corporate sector hospitals. We have already issued show-cause notices to four private hospitals for not treating swine flu patients,” the health official said.