Carelessness on the part of staff sitting at fee counters number 16 and 20 at the Post Graduate Institute of Medical Education and Research (PGIMER) is becoming a cause of harassment for several patients, who are either being charged more fee or their receipts are made for tests which they haven’t undergone.
HT has got hold of at least 15 such cases, wherein patients were charged more fee and that too for a test which was not prescribed by a doctor. In some cases, the fee is being charged which is not being performed in PGIMER for the last several years. On Monday, a neurology patient Mamta ended up wasting around three hours in just getting a correct receipt for her test. “Doctor had asked me to get a fungal smear or culture test done. I went to counter number 16 and deposited Rs 100 and was given a receipt, but when I went to the lab to give a sample, the person returned me saying that the receipt is wrong and is for the histopathology test.
While Mamta was on her way back to the fee counter 16, she met a doctor who guided her to deposit fees at counter number 20. The mistake was repeated again there. “I again paid Rs 100, and again wrong receipt was issued, this time it was for fungal serology. When I reached the lab, attendant again asked to revisit the counter and deposit Rs 150 for the test (fungal smear/culture) as prescribed by the doctor,” she said. “I was too tired by that time, but visited both the counters again and asked for fee return and correct receipt. But instead of correcting their mistake, they misbehaved with me and indulged in an argument.”
An official from hospital administration had to intervene and then the issue was sorted out. “Poor people like us have to face harrowing time in the institute. For the last one year, I am undergoing treatment at PGI and such hassles repeatedly occur,” Mamta said. One of the technician posted at sample collection centre said, “There have been numerous such incidents reported where staff at fee section has been charging fee for different tests, which are not prescribed. I daily come across 7-8 cases.”
On May 26, a patient Rajesh Kumar was asked by a doctor to give cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) sample for acid fast bacilli (AFB) smear. The cost of this test is Rs 25. However, the patient was charged `100 for sputum concentration and culture of AFB, which was not suggested by the doctor. “The tests are to investigate tuberculosis,” informs a lab attendant.
In another case dated May 26, patient named Ajay was asked by a doctor that an investigation is required to look for amoeba, trophozite investigation (to check if patient is suffering from any parasitic infection.) The cost is Rs 30. However, the patient was asked to pay Rs 100 and that too for antibody detection test.
In one case, a patient was directed to get the malaria parasite test done, however the money was deducted for ‘Qualitative Buffy Coat’ investigation, which as per sources is not being conducted in PGIMER for several years.
Ashwani Munjal, general Secretary, PGI medical technologist’s association said, “It creates several problems for patients. First of all, because of the negligence of the staff sitting at fee counter, a patient ends up paying more money. Secondly, the fee paid is for the test which is not even prescribed by a doctor. The reports cannot be updated online as well.”
When asked, financial adviser, PGIMER, said, “I am not aware about the situation, but will definitely look into the matter.”