Kerala

Hospital booked for overcharging COVID-19 patients in Kochi

Image used for representational purpose only. File   | Photo Credit: PTI

The Aluva East police have registered a case of cheating against a private hospital following complaints about alleged fleecing of Covid-19 patients.

The case was registered invoking IPC 420 (cheating and dishonestly inducing delivery of property) against Anwar hospital near Aluva private bus stand.

“The case was registered following multiple complaints about exorbitant bills issued by the hospital, including for PPE (Personal Protective Equipment) kits. We are probing the matter and are about to collect the statement of the hospital management. We have asked the sectoral magistrate and Tehsildar to look into the matter and a report will also be submitted to the district collector in his capacity as chairman of the District Disaster Management Authority," said P.S. Rajesh, Station House Officer, Aluva East.

The police, however, have not invoked the Kerala Epidemic Disease Ordinance citing that it was silent on excess bills and mostly covered civic violations. Neither have they invoked the Disaster Management Act as it requires the approval of the authority concerned.

The complainants alleged that the exorbitant bills were not commensurate with the facilities offered by the hospital. That there is no uniformity regarding the billing for Covid-19 treatment by private hospitals does not make enforcement easy either, police said.

On its part, the hospital management alleged the issue was politically motivated and born out of an ongoing legal battle since 2018-end over the ownership of the hospital. The present management had taken the hospital for a 10-year lease in 2017 reportedly with a mutual understanding to buy it in two years. However, the 2018-deluge threw a spanner in the plans and the owner allegedly sought the hospital to be vacated abruptly thereafter leading to the legal battle.

“In the instant case two patients had complained about the bill – a woman about the food expenses and a male patient about the cost of 40 PPE kits included in his bill for his ten-day-long admission. The allegation by the former that we charged ₹1,300-odd for rice gruel served for dinner alone is misleading. It was the total expense for all her meals served as per demand over her 24-hour-long admission. The latter wanted us to show the cost of PPE kits of ₹40,000-odd as treatment expenses so that he gets it reimbursed under his medical insurance. We flatly declined to do it,” said Maneesh Babu, director, Anwar hospital.

He said that a health department team had sought details about the latter’s complaint on Sunday and that it was duly complied with.


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Printable version | Jun 19, 2021 3:51:54 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/kerala/hospital-booked-for-overcharging-covid-19-patients-in-kochi/article34525536.ece

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