Mumbai: Hospital in Borivli charges COVID-19 patient over Rs 92,000 for 3 days of hospitalisation

Updated: 14 October, 2020 08:44 IST | mid-day online correspondent | Mumbai

The hospital charged Rs 92,620 for three days, of which Rs 5,000 was charged per day for oxygen support of more than five litres per minute and Rs 2,500 for oxygen support less than five litres per minute

Photo for representational purpose.
Photo for representational purpose.

In violation of norms, a 72-year-old COVID-19 patient was charged Rs 2,500 to Rs 5,000 per day for oxygen during three days of hospitalisation by a private hospital in the western suburbs of Mumbai.

As per a report in The Indian Express, Borivli-based Apex hospital, which was denied permission to treat COVID-19 patients two months ago by the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) over multiple complaints of overcharging, charged a patient Rs 92,620 for three days of hospitalisation.

When the patient had to be referred to KEM hospital, her grandson, a cable and internet operator, had to assure free internet service to the hospital to facilitate the transfer. “We did not have money, they were clearly charging exorbitantly but there was no time to lose. We urgently needed a transfer. So I had to promise them free internet for a pending bill of Rs 37,000,” said Arhaan Shaikh.

Bhagyashree Kapse, assistant commissioner in R-Central ward, said an inquiry will be initiated against the hospital. “We are receiving several complaints that the hospital is treating Covid patients despite our notice to stop Covid admissions. In the past too we got complaints of overcharging. The hospital does not inform us when it admits a coronavirus case, it is against norms,” she said.

In the latest case, Zohra Shaikh, aged 72, was admitted on October 7 following a heart attack and breathlessness. She was admitted to the intensive care unit. By October 8 her reports came positive for COVID-19. On October 9, she was referred to KEM hospital for further treatment. By then she was on non-invasive ventilator support with oxygen saturation lower than 90.

The hospital charged Rs 92,620 for three days, of which Rs 5,000 was charged per day for oxygen support of more than five litres per minute and Rs 2,500 for oxygen support less than five litres per minute.

In its latest notification on August 31, the Maharashtra government clearly asked hospitals to refrain from charging separately for oxygen. The bed cost of ICU or ventilator has to include oxygen charges. “We calculated oxygen requirement per Covid patient in ICUs. It does not cost the hospital more than Rs 300-400 per patient per day,” said Dr Sudhakar Shinde, who drafted the price capping notification.

Apex hospital has, however, charged both components separately, for ICU at Rs 4,500 per day and for oxygen at Rs 2,500-5,000 per day. It charged Rs 1,000 for personal protective equipment per day.

Apex hospital’s treating doctor Dinesh Sharma said the patient was admitted as a suspected case of Covid. “We can’t admit Covid positive patients. But we can treat suspected cases. She was admitted in ICU with myocardial infarction and treated symptomatically,” he said. Dr Jayesh Chaubey, in-charge of the hospital, said he has to check the details of the case. Dr Sangeeta Shah, co-founder of Apex hospital, said, “Their bill is still pending. We will look into the matter.”

Shaikh’s grandson Arhaan said the hospital was not ready to transfer her unless they paid entire amount. “She was critical and we were losing time. The hospital did not even help in finding us another hospital. We were left on our own,” he said. The family took the help of some social workers who arranged for a bed in another hospital. Shaikh passed away in KEM hospital at 2.35 am on Monday due to Covid complications.

BMC’s ward in-charge Kapse said each hospital is supposed to report Covid patients to the local ward office. “Apex has flouted several norms. The biggest complaint is of overcharging patients,” she said.

Smaller nursing homes and private hospitals continue to charge for bio-medical waste, personal protective equipment and oxygen for COVID-19 treatment, making healthcare unaffordable despite a slew of measures to cap prices by the state government.

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First Published: 14 October, 2020 08:39 IST

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