The Fortis Hiranadani hospital in Vashi has again come in bad light after it allegedly doubled a patient’s bill 45 minutes after he died of paralysis. Ten days ago, the hospital was criticised for allowing the shooting of a film on the hospital premises.
On Thursday, in the standing committee meet of Navi Mumbai Municipal Corporation (NMMC), members alleged huge irregularities by the hospital in charging patients.
According to committee member Vaibhav Gaikwad, a patient Kamlesh Mav, who had suffered a paralysis attack, was admitted to Fortis on December 19.
“The hospital estimated a fee of Rs 5 lakh for five days of hospitalisation, and asked Kamlesh’s family to deposit Rs 1.5 lakh at the time of admitting him. On December 20 around 11.30 am, when the family asked the hospital about the bill amount, it showed a bill of Rs 2.32 lakh. However, just 45 minutes later, the hospital conveyed to the family members the news of Kamlesh’s death and handed them a bill of Rs 4.47 lakh,” said Gaikwad. “The family was shocked since the bill amount was doubled in just 45 minutes.”
Gaikwad continued, “When we (a few corporators) were informed about the incident, we visited the hospital and questioned the authorities. However, they paid no heed and refused to hand over Kamlesh’s body. It was only given to the family at 10 pm, and not before the family paid up Rs 4.47 lakh.”
The hospital reportedly did not respond to Sampat Shewale, chairman of the standing committee, who had visited the hospital. Said Shewale, “The hospital is sucking the blood of people. How can it keep Kamlesh’s body for 10 hours?”
Committee members demanded cancelling Fortis’ contract with the NMMC for the hospital land. “The administration should cancel the contract. The hospital is looting the common man,” said Gaikwad.
But the NMMC administration expressed its inability to cancel the contract citing certain clauses. Bhaskar Wankhede, municipal commissioner of NMMC, said, “The contract was signed in 2005 and revised in 2008 and it is valid for 25 years. Though I have come across some complaints about the hospital regarding the same issue, we have some contractual liability. The contract states no penal clauses in favour of the NMMC. So, we cannot take any action for overcharging. This can be done only under the consumer protection acts. However, we will seek legal solution to cancel the contract with Fortis.”
Claiming irregularities by NMMC officials while making the contract, the standing committee members demanded an inquiry against the officials.
“The contract was made and the land was given to the hospital by some officials by bypassing its approval from the general body meeting. Inquiry should be made against these officials for favoring the hospital,” said M K Madhavi, another standing committee member.
The other side
In an official statement, the spokesperson for Fortis said, “The patient was brought to the hospital in a critical condition. Our doctors did everything within their means to save the patient, but it was unfortunate that he expired. We take an extremely sympathetic view of such a situation. The body was handed over to the family without any delay. The charges payable by the family are reasonable and purely for the procedures and medicines incurred in the actual treatment of the patient.”