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Lab test racket fleecing SCB patients

For all the tall claims of the Government of taking steps to curb the menace of referring patients in Government hospitals to private labs for tests, the SCB Medical College and Hospital is proving to be a nasty poke in the eye.

Published: 20th March 2013 11:59 AM  |   Last Updated: 20th March 2013 11:59 AM   |  A+A-

For all the tall claims of the Government of taking steps to curb the menace of referring patients in Government hospitals to private labs for tests, the SCB Medical College and Hospital is proving to be a nasty poke in the eye.

The largest State-run healthcare institution is in the grip of a racket. The patients coming to the hospital are being deliberately sent to private laboratories even for basic tests despite the hospital boasting of a well equipped Regional Diagnostic Centre (RDC).

The Casualty or the Emergency wing is a blatant picture of the malaise that is deep-rooted in the system. On Monday morning, B Shaw (45) was rushed to the Casualty wing of SCBMCH on complaint of severe discomfort and head reeling.

He was diagnosed to be suffering from hypertension and underwent an ECG test immediately. The test report was normal and Shaw was let off after administration of saline.

As he was discharged, the doctor attending him wrote out a slip prescribing tests for urea, creatinine, sodium and potassium and asked him to get it done at a private pathological laboratory GEM Diagnostics in the vicinity of the hospital. She, in fact, jotted down the name of the lab on a piece of paper.“We went to the lab and had to shell out ` 180 for the tests,” said Shaw’s nephew Shiv Kumar.That the tests for urea, creatinine, sodium and potassium are most basic tests and available even in the peripheral healthcare centres notwithstanding, the charges for the entire tests at SCBMCH is only ` 95.

What is more appalling is that patients, in many cases, are not registered at the Casualty ward even if they are given treatment there before being discharged. It is mandatory for registration of every patient who reports at the unit. According to sources, not registering a patient is part of the modus operandi of the unscrupulous doctors for diverting the patients to private hospitals, nursing homes or laboratories without any hindrance. If there is no record of a patient, no charge can be held against them.

The hospital’s Superintendent Prof Shyama Kanungo said concerted efforts are being made to curb the menace by warning doctors as well as putting up signages for knowledge of patients. “We request the patients and the public to come to us directly if they are asked to go to private centres for tests or diagnostic services. We assure of taking instant action on their complaints,” she said.

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