MADURAI: Two hospital workers, including a data entry operator, at Government Rajaji Hospital (GRH) have been terminated from service and a radiation oncologist transferred out of her department for allegedly diverting nearly 500 cancer patients to a private hospital owned by the kin of the doctor, thereby causing a loss of Rs 2.18 crore to the State government.
The move follows a two-day inquiry conducted by a four-member committee constituted by the State health department. The inquiry order accessed by TNIE says, “The United India Insurance Company (in its letter dated November 11, 2021) has informed that cancer patients who seek medical treatment at GRH have been methodically pursued and shifted to Mohan Medicity Hospital, by the doctors of GRH. It has resulted in the loss of revenue of Rs 61,29,760 to Tamil Nadu Health Systems Project (TNHSP) and Rs 1,57,62,242 to GRH.”
Following the allegations levelled by the insurance company, the project director of TNHSP constituted a four-member committee to probe into the charges. Speaking to TNIE on condition of anonymity, a member of the inquiry committee said, “During our investigation, it was found that Associate Professor Dr K Mahalakshmi Prasad who served as the Head of Department (in-charge) of Radiation Oncology until February has transferred nearly 500 patients since 2017 to the private hospital owned by her father who is a renowned surgical oncologist.”
A hospital official said when a cancer patient is treated under CMCHIS, the cost is covered by a specific insurance package worth Rs 40,000, of which 28 per cent is reimbursed to TNHSP while 72 per cent is reimbursed to the private/government hospital by the Tamil Nadu government. “In case of the patient being treated at a private hospital, the insurance amount given by the State government reaches the hands of private parties,” he said.
Based on the inquiry, two workers namely 26-year-old data entry operator Charles from K Pudur and 42-year-old lab technician Aruna from Thirunagar, who were reportedly found to have a nexus in the issue of patient transfer, were terminated from work by the GRH Dean Dr. A Rathinavel on Thursday. Also on Friday, the GRH Dean relieved Mahalakshmi Prasad from the department of Radiation Oncology and deputed her at the Institute of Community Medicine at Madurai Medical College.
“With action pending against the doctor and the workers by the State health department, the workers were terminated and the doctor was transferred out of her department as preliminary action. Based on orders from the health department, further punitive measures will be taken,” Dr. Rathinavel said.
‘Action to be initiated’
Action against the radiation oncologist will be initiated by the Principal Secretary/Officer on Special Duty in Health Department Dr. P Senthilkumar, Project Director of TNHSP Dr. Uma told TNIE