Bengal questions Apollo hospital for refusal to release patient over bills

Kolkata, Feb 25 (IANS) The West Bengal government on Saturday summoned authorities of a city based private hospital for allegedly having refused to release a patient over money and even taking possession of his fixed deposit certificates.

Against the backdrop of a series of complaints of “unethical moneymaking” and “negligence” against private hospitals that even prompted Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee to give their managements an unprecedented public tongue lashing earlier this week, the government said it would look into the latest incident involving the Apollo Gleneagles Hospital in “greater details”.

“We are not completely satisfied with the explanation given by the hospital officials. The case would be looked into in greater detail. The state government is disappointed and disturbed over the incident. If these kind of things keep happening where would the common people go,” state Health Secretary R.S. Shukla said after meeting three top executives of the hospital.

Sanjoy Roy, 30, a resident of Dankuni in Hooghly district, who was critically injured in a road accident, died on Thursday night at the state-run SSKM Hospital where he was shifted from Apollo hours back.

Roy’s relatives and friends accused Apollo of “inadequate treatment” even while raising a huge bill and refusing to allow him to be shifted to SSKM unless they paid up the full amount. They alleged that the hospital delayed his discharge and relented only after they deposited fixed deposit certificates.

“A hospital should focus more on saving a patient’s life than worrying about the bills. If a poor family like them could pay Rs 7, 60,000 to the hospital and deposit a fixed deposit of more than Rs 3 lakh, why could such a big hospital not release the patient and take the payment later by cheque?” Shukla asked.

“This issue is more shocking as the incident happened just a day after the Chief Minister held a meeting with the hospital authorities and urged them to address issues like this. I think the hospital did not show a humane approach in this case that the Chief Minister was talking about,” he said.

The Health Secretary also said that preliminary documents submitted by the hospital shows that they did not follow the Supreme Court’s order about admitting accident victims.

“According to the Supreme Court’s order, any hospital, whether public or private, should admit critical patients like accident victims, rape victims or acid attack victims immediately without taking money but the receipt shows, the patient party had to pay Rs 30,000 immediately after patient’s admission,” he said.

“According to specialists, the treatment of this patient could have been simplified to make it less expensive but that was not done. Steps would be taken if any discrepancy is found in the medical bills,” he added.