HT Chandigarh debate: Don’t make patients pay for Covid-19 safety measures
Recent reports of non-Covid-19 patients in private hospitals being billed anything between Rs 1,800 to Rs 5,000 for Personal Protective Equipment (PPE kits) and Rs 50 for sanitisers used by health workers treating them indicates how such hospitals are prioritising profits above all else during a pandemic.
A hospital in Panchkula recently billed a woman Rs18,000 for PPE kits of seven health workers attending to the birth of her child, including two PPE kits for the infant.
When asked to comment on the matter, a hospital spokesperson not wishing to be named, said, “We are following Haryana health department guidelines and are charging as per the guidelines and not charging unnecessarily.”
A Chandigarh resident too recently protested when he was charged Rs 50 for a sanitiser at a private hospital. When questioned, the doctor present confirmed the costs and added that Rs 4,000 to Rs 5,000 was also being charged for PPE kits.
He said costs of sanitising the hospital and other safety measures meant increased expenses at a time when fewer patients were coming in.
Another hospital in Mohali charged a patient Rs 4,200 for a PPE kit from a patient undergoing medical intervention for a kidney ailment.
Panchkula civil surgeon Dr Jasjeet Kaur told Hindustan Times recently that an order had been issued on overcharging for PPE kits in certain hospitals. It stated that irrational usage and overcharging for PPE kits had been observed in certain private hospitals, adding unnecessary burden to the patients. “A serious note of this is being taken and all private hospitals are directed to use PPEs as per guidelines already issued. Cost of these if passed on to the patient should be justified and not unnecessarily included in the bill,” she added.
The order also reads that any such complaints by the patients will be viewed seriously and appropriate action would be taken.
Should patients pay for Covid-19 safety measures?
Why do private hospitals expect patients to pay for PPE kits used by health workers? Send your responses to Chandigarh@hindustantimes.com by June 5.