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Private hospital doctors booked for overcharging deceased Covid-19 patient’s kin

Four doctors working at a hospital in Chakan were booked for overcharging the kin of a deceased Covid-19 patient despite warnings and a cap on the bill amount by the state government
By Shalaka Shinde, Pune
PUBLISHED ON MAY 30, 2021 09:43 PM IST

Four doctors working at a hospital in Chakan were booked for overcharging the kin of a deceased Covid-19 patient despite warnings and a cap on the bill amount by the state government.

The four were identified as Dr Smita Ghatkar, Dr Rahul Sonawane, Dr Seema Gawli, and Dr Ramesh Ghatkar. The accused doctors work at Chakan Criticare hospital.

A complaint in the matter was lodged by Dr Nanda Ganpat Dhawale (58), medical superintendent at Maharashtra state government rural hospital, Chakan, Khed.

The doctors and their hospital charged the relatives of a man named Vijay Lakshman Pokharkar form Ozar, Pune, 2, 53,300 for Covid-19 treatment between September 2, 2020, and September 16, 2020. Pokharkar was on ventilator and succumbed to the infection at the end of his term at the hospital.

The deceased person’s wife Pushpa Pokharkar had cleared the hospital bill after her husband’s death. However, in accordance with the state government rules, she had approached the district collector office machinery with the bill for an audit.

“The woman had complained to the collector’s office. The collector’s office informed it to Aundh district hospital. The Aundh hospital authorities asked the Chakan rural government hospital to look into the matter and get an audit done. Whatever excess amount was found, that was to be returned. Two notices have been sent to the hospital in that regard by Chakan government hospital. Copies of both the notices have ‘received’ stamp from the accused persons’ hospital,” said assistant police inspector (API) Prakash Rathod of Chakan police station who is investigating the case.

When asked about the amount of excess money levied through the bill upon the Pokharkar family, the complainant was not forthcoming.

“We have no information about the patient. We had received orders of audit from our seniors. A court case was done in the matter and as per further orders, a police complaint was lodged. Since the matter is subjudice, I cannot comment on the specifics of the case,” said Dr Dhawale.

In May 2020, the state government had announced a cap on the private hospital bill for Covid-19 treatment. Every bill over 1.5 lakh was audited by local authorities.

However, on Saturday, state health minister Rajesh Tope announced that all Covid-19 treatment bills by private hospitals will be audited to avoid trickery by private hospitals.

A case under Sections 420 (cheating), 406 (criminal breach of trust), 34 (common intention) and 188 of Indian Penal Code was registered at Chakan police station against the four doctors.

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