Hyderabad: After a spate of complaints about private hospitals fleecing COVID-19 patients and overcharging them to the tune of millions of rupees, the Telangana government has cancelled the permission of at least five private hospitals in Hyderabad and stopped them from admitting any coronavirus patients with immediate effect.
The list includes Virinchi, one of the leading corporate hospitals, Maxhealth Hospital, Neelima, TX and Vinn Hospitals.
The crackdown came after several victims lodged complaints with the state health department that the hospitals charged them Rs2 to 3 million to treat their patients and, in most cases, failed to save the lives of the COVID-19 victims.
The family members of one such victim, V.Vamsi, went on rampage in Virinchi hospital a couple of days ago, alleging that negligence on the part of doctors and staff caused the death of a person.
Vamsi’s family alleged that doctors at Virinchi had violated the treatment protocol, gave excess steroids, and wrong dialysis causing his death due to cardiac arrest.
G Srinvas Rao, Director of Public Health, said the government took serious note of the complaints as some of the private hospitals were charging up to Rs150,000 (Dh7,500) per day for an oxygen bed.
This was exorbitant even compared to the other corporate hospitals that were not charging such a high amount even for an ICU bed with a ventilator.
“We have issued show cause notices to 88 hospitals across Telangana”, he added.
To avoid any further problems to the patient, the hospitals have been asked to continue to treat the current patients but barred them from admitting any new coronavirus cases.
It is second time Virinchi Hospital has faced the government action. Its permission to treat COVID-19 patients was cancelled during the first wave last year after similar complaints of negligence and over charging the patients.
In one of the hospitals facing action, the attendants of a patient noted that the bill included consultation charges of Rs21,000 for a doctor who had quit the hospital long ago.
PS Sai Kumar, one of the complainants demanded Vinn hospitals should be made to refund his money. “For a simple meal I was charged Rs9,000 per day,” he said.
Another hospital charged Rs7,000 per day for food when the patient was not at all in a position to eat.
The complainants also alleged that they were being forced by the hospitals to pauy hundreds of thousands of rupees as advance in cash and charged for services, which the hospitals did not render.
In view of allegations of irregularities the state government had publicised a Whatsapp number to receive such complaints and encouraged the victims to come forward with the details.
Victims said that they were forced to go to the private hospitals due to the non-availability of beds in government hospitals. For a population of about 40 million, Telangana has only 112 government COVID-19 hospitals.