KOCHI: Anson Antony was in for a rude shock when he was handed a bill of Rs 1,67,381 for 10 days of COVID treatment at a private hospital in Aluva. The 28-year-old tested positive on April 23 and was admitted to Anwar Memorial Hospital, Aluva, on April 29 after he developed pneumonia-related symptoms.
According to Anson, who was discharged on May 8, the hospital charged him Rs 44,000 for PPE kits alone. The hospital authorities reportedly made him pay Rs 50,000 at the time of admission to begin treatment. "The hospital has only limited facilities. Though I was allotted an oxygen bed and antibiotics for pneumonia, on several occasions, I had to remind nurses to bring me the medicines," said Anson. Following the incident, Anson posted a video on social media detailing his experience at the hospital.
On Sunday, Kerala High Court judge Justice Devan Ramachandran directed the district collector to intervene in the issue, based on a complaint he received in this regard. The directive comes even as a bench headed by Justice Ramachandran is set to consider a public interest litigation against overcharging by private hospitals for Covid treatment, on Monday.
Following Justice Ramachandran's intervention, the Ernakulam collector sought a report from the district medical officer on the matter. "An inquiry has been initiated into the issue. The deputy DMO will submit a report to the collector soon," said NK Kuttappan, DMO.
Several complaints were raised from across the state on private hospitals fleecing Covid patients and their kin, which had prompted the High Court to direct the state government to regulate prices charged by the hospitals on PPE kits and oxygen.
More complaints of fleecing emerge
This is not an isolated incident. Shabeena, a native of Vaduthala, reportedly faced a similar ordeal from the same hospital a few days ago. Despite being admitted for Covid treatment, no doctor or nurse allegedly visited her.
When she informed her relatives, they shifted her to another hospital. However, she was charged Rs 24,760 though she had spent less than 24 hours at the hospital. The hospital allegedly levied Rs 10,416 for the PPE kit alone from her.
She filed a complaint with police in this regard. Similarly, 81-year-old Beepathu, who was admitted for 5 days, was charged Rs 37,352, while another person, Ibrahim, was charged Rs 12,880 for the PPE kits for two days of treatment at the hospital. The hospital authorities could not be reached for comments.