Even though the state government makes big announcements of providing better and free medical facilities at government health institutions but when it comes to Government Rajendra Medical College and Hospital in Patiala, all their tall claims seems to have fallen flat.
Though infrastructure of almost all types of clinical tests is available in the hospital premises, certain private laboratories allegedly "enjoy patronage" of senior doctors and the authorities as they blatantly collect samples for different tests from the hospital wards.
Due to lackadaisical attitude of the hospital authorities in checking the practice, patients and their attendants have been facing heat as they are made to pay hefty amount for clinical tests which are available in hospital labs at nominal rates.
Such malpractice has not only become cause of worry for patients but also denting the financial position of the hospital.
However, the matter was reported to senior authorities at state-level several times but such illegal practice is going unabated which raise questions over some suspected nexus between doctors and private laboratory owners.
Sources revealed that the nexus between laboratory owners and doctors has deepened in the past several months. Now doctors allow private lab technician to visit wards for collecting samples of the patients against the earlier practice of referring patients to visit particular labs for respective tests.
"Certain private laboratory owners have deployed their men in each ward who can be seen collecting samples from the wards. Not only this, they charge people in front of doctors and nurses on duty at time of collection ", a source said.
Security officer of Rajendra hospital captain (retd) Kirpal Singh said though the authorities have passed strict instructions not to allow private lab technicians to enter any ward but the latter somehow managed to sneak into the ward collect samples
"Security men used to get catch private technicians
coming out with samples but with no power to take actions against tem, we have to release them within minutes", he said.
Besides, the non-availability of examination test of hepatitis A and C, 90 per cent of clinical tests can be done in hospital laboratories. Despite a set-up of modern radiology room, doctors prescribe patients to get their ultra-sounds and CT scans done from private radiologists.
The common clinical tests, which are generally charged between Rs. 10-20, cost from Rs. 40 onwards at private laboratories. The ultrasound at government institution cost between Rs. 100-500, while private radiologist charge between Rs. 750-150. A CT scan cost around Rs. 1500 outside, while in hospital it cost Rs 1000. Similarly for an X-ray, a patient has to shell out Rs. 250-300 to private labs while in the hospital it cost Rs. 50.
Sources in the hospital revealed that Vini Mahajan, principal secretary, health and medical education and director, medical education and research, Dr Tejveer Singh, recently held meeting with hospital representatives following series complaints regarding ongoing illegal practice.
When contacted, Dr KD Singh, principal of the college said he has recently directed doctors to shun this practice during recent meeting of college council held on Monday.
"The doctors have been informed that strict action will be taken against those found carrying such practice. Several notices in this regards are already given, while security staff of hospital has been directed firmly not to allow private lab technicians to enter at any cost", he said.
The hospital labs are capable enough to provide reports of clinical tests till 6pm, while 24 hours laboratory facility is being provided for emergency case, he informed.
Meanwhile, repeated attempts to contact DRME Tejveer Singh yielded no result.