TIRUCHY: On May 19, Pooja* got her mother admitted to a private hospital in Srirangam. The second wave was at its peak, and Pooja had had great difficulty in finding a hospital bed. But she heaved a sigh of relief for having got one as her mother’s blood-oxygen level had plummeted to a critical 74.
When, however, she was charged Rs 80,000 for just two hours of treatment on the first day of the admission, that relief was replaced by shock. “They first checked my mother’s vitals and charged half-a-day’s fees for two hours. They charged Rs 23,000 for medicines alone. Then, they shifted her to another hospital, saying they didn’t have a bed,” said Pooja, adding that the hospital had taken an advance payment of Rs 40, 000.
After undergoing treatment for 21 days, Pooja’s mother died on June 9, and Pooja was handed a hospital bill of Rs 11 lakh. As for a break-up, there was none, she alleged. “They gave her plasma twice and charged Rs 40,000 for that. We had no idea what was happening inside; they certainly didn’t follow any government norm on regulation of charges,” Pooja said.
According to the norms, those not covered under CMCHIS can be charged a maximum of Rs 35,000 a day for ICU treatment with invasive ventilation and Rs 25,000 for ICU treatment with just oxygen support.
Pooja also alleged that those covered under CMCHIS were not given plasma and certain medications and that they were discharged by the hospital faster. “These hospitals are making hay out of the pandemic,” she alleged, adding that she has filed a complaint with 104, alleging medical negligence in her mother’s death, and overcharging.
Not the only case
Many patients had to take loans to settle their hospital bills. Suresh* said he sold some of his wife’s jewellery for her treatment. A few people who lost their loved ones to Covid said that even after the death of the patient, bills kept piling up. They are charged Rs 650 for a PPE kit for the burial/cremation, Rs 1,000 for the body cover, and ambulance charges, which goes up to Rs 10,000.