PUDUCHERRY: Five laboratories have been penalised with a fine of Rs 50,000 each for unauthorized COVID-19 testing and overcharging patients by the District Collector-cum-Chairman, Clinical Establishment Authority 2010, Puducherry, Purva Garg.
SRL Diagnostic Laboratory, located at Bussy Street, Selvan Clinical Laboratory, Thiyagaraja Street, Red Clinical Lab and ECG, Kaveri Nagar, Reddiarpalayam, Diagnostic Laboratories, Pakkamudiyanpet and East Coast Hospitals, Moolakulam have been penalised with a fine of Rs 50,000 by an order issued on June 16.
The penalty imposed under the Clinical Establishment (Registration and Regulation) Act, 2010 has to be paid within a period of 30 days by a demand draft in favour of the Deputy Director (Public Health) -cum District Registering Authority, CEA 2010, Puducherry, according to Dr. R. Murali, Deputy Director (PH)-cum District Registering Authority, CEA-2010, who served the notice to the five laboratories.
The CEA stated that instructions were issued to all private laboratories, medical colleges, hospitals and nursing homes in Puducherry that COVID-19 testing has to be done with the permission of the Health Department, Government of Puducherry, and at the rates prescribed by it.
Based on complaints, a committee formed under Dr R Murali to inspect private laboratories and hospitals indulging in such activities inspected the SRL Diagnostic Laboratory, located at Bussy Street on May 6 and the Selvan Clinical Laboratory, Thiyagaraja street, Red Clinical Lab and ECG, Kaveri Nagar, Reddiarpalayam, Diagnostic Laboratories, Pakkamudiyanpet and East Coast Hospitals, Moolakulam on May 24 and confirmed that they are conducting RTPCR tests without obtaining any approval from the government and collecting more than the amount fixed.
Test samples were collected from patients both at the lab and from residences and sent to labs located in Chennai and Kanchipuram. The bill or invoice has not been maintained and were not available in all these labs. Though the amount was fixed as Rs 500 for RT-PCR test by the government and communication sent not to collect more than Rs 500 for Rapid Antigen test, the written registers showed around Rs 2000 to Rs 2500 has been collected for each RT-PCR test in all the labs.
It was observed during the inspection that East Coast Hospital collected Rs 4000 for RT-PCR and Rs 1500 for Rapid Antigen test, as per the bill receipts retrieved from the hospital.
Further, the test reports were sent directly to patients and not shared with the Integrated Disease Surveillance Programe (IDSP) wing of the Health Department, Puducherry, monitoring the COVID situation, which is a serious concern, observed the CEA. Thus the laboratories have violated the norms prescribed under the Clinical Establishment Act, 2010 and the fine has been levied, stated Dr Murali.
The test certificates issued by the laboratories are also under investigation after one of them was found issuing suspected fake RTPCR test certificates to foreign travelers.