A patient admitted to a private hospital in the city for emergency care on Tuesday around 5.30 a.m. died around 10.30 a.m. But what stumped the relatives even while trying to accept the fate was the bill of Rs. 3.45 lakh that was handed out by the hospital.

A headload worker from Maradu, K.M. Vijayan, 42, was the patient. When an explanation for the exorbitant amount was sought by friends and relatives of Vijayan, the hospital offered an initial concession of Rs.30,000 and they were asked to pay Rs.3.15 lakh. Not satisfied with the answers, the relatives probed further and they were asked to meet the cardiac surgeon who treated Vijayan.

The surgeon told them that the angioplasty procedures employed to try and save the patient’s life may have cost around Rs.1.5 lakh. “He also showed us the position of the stent in the body”, said M.S. Vinod, a friend of Vijayan.

“Since that still accounted for only half of the bill amount, we still argued the case with the hospital managing director,” he said.

Finally, the relatives agreed to pay Rs. 2.73 lakh, of which they paid Rs.1 lakh in cash and the rest by way of a cheque. “It was already late and we could not let the relatives of the patient wait any longer, so we settled for whatever was offered”, said Mr. Vinod.

The hospital’s managing director said that the patient’s relatives can verify the costs incurred. They were taken to the cardiac labs, where entry to any other person is not allowed. He added that 90 per cent of the cost in the bill is for consumables and medicines. A stent itself may cost anything between 70,000 to Rs. 1.5 lakh, he said.

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