Cabbie uncovers prescription racket at South Mumbai hospital

Updated: Dec 28, 2016, 09:34 IST | Vinay Dalvi

After doctor asks him to buy surgical clips, ward boy returns item to store and pockets the cash

CCTV footage shows the ward boy Dilip Pawar (in green) returning the surgical clip and pocketing the money
CCTV footage shows the ward boy Dilip Pawar (in green) returning the surgical clip and pocketing the money

A taxi driver from Cuffe Parade took to sleuthing to uncover a prescription scam at St George Hospital, where his sister was admitted for surgery.

On December 10, Shivkumar Kanojia’s sister, Sangita, was in St George Hospital for a surgery (cholecystectomy or gall bladder removal), when the doctors handed the family a prescription for surgery clips costing R900. Shivkumar immediately headed out in his taxi to the nearby Samarth medical store in Bora Bazaar. He bought the surgical clip and handed it to his brother-in-law along with the bill.

Shivkumar Kanojia
Shivkumar Kanojia

“Later, I asked him to return the bill so we could get it reimbursed under the Rajiv Gandhi Jeevandayee Arogya Yojana (RGJAY), which gives free medical care for poor people. He told me that a hospital staffer in a mask had taken the bill,” said Shivkumar.

Shivkumar then questioned his sister’s doctor, Manish Gupta, but did not get a proper response from him.

“I decided to get a duplicate copy of the bill from the medical store. But when I went there, the shopkeeper told me that someone from the hospital had already returned the clip and take the money back,” he recalled.

Cracking the case
Shivkumar was taken aback and decided to investigate the matter further. With the help of social worker Shobhan Pamula, he managed to obtain CCTV footage from the shop. The footage showed a ward boy from the hospital returning the surgical clip along with the receipt to the shopkeeper, after which he pocketed the money that was returned. Shivkumar showed the video to the hospital superintendent Dr Jagdish Bhawani, who initially said that the man was unlikely to be their staffer but added that they would investigate further.

“My sister was immediately discharged by the hospital authorities, fearing repercussions,” said Shivkumar, adding that eventually they admitted that the accused is indeed their employee.

The suspect was identified as Dilip Pawar, a ward boy working at the surgical department in ward number 10. Dr TP Lahane, dean of JJ Hospital, told mid-day that Pawar was a temporary staffer. “I have instructed officials not to hire him further or renew his contract. The matter will be fully investigated.”

Sources also confirmed that Pawar has been suspended.

Persistence paid off
mid-day spoke to the owner of the medical store, who admitted that it was not uncommon for hospital staffers to bring products back and take the money. “However, very few people follow up on the issue to the end like Shivkumar did,” said the owner.

Pamula, the social worker, added, “This is indeed a big racket. How can you even ask poor people to bring medicines when they are covered under the Rajeev Gandhi Arogya Yojana and everything is supposed to be provided by the state government?”

Shivkumar wrote to the MRA Marg police to file an FIR, but the cops allegedly told him they would only register a case if the hospital approached them. MRA Marg Senior PI Sukhlal Varpe was not available for comment.

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