Hospital ordered to pay Rs 1 lakh for needless tests
Deeksha Chopra, TNN 6 October 2008, 01:31am IST
NEW DELHI: The state consumer commission has indicted a leading healthcare centre in the city, Apollo Hospital, for carrying out "unnecessary tests" on terminally ill patients with the "intention of drawing up exorbitant bills", especially when the hospital didn't have arrangements to treat the patient.
The commission directed Apollo to pay Rs 1 lakh each to families of two deceased patients who, the consumer forum said, were subjected to unnecessary tests while being treated at the hospital.
In one of the cases, Dr Gopi Chand Ram, deputy director (health) in Bihar government was admitted to the hospital with tests suggestive of lymphoma and anaplastic carcinoma (both cancers) on June 11, 1999. On July 2 1999, he was referred to the Rajiv Gandhi Cancer Institute for treatment as Apollo didn't have adequate arrangements for treating cancer. The patient died on July 13.
Filing a complaint with the commission, his widow Kalawati Devi, alleged that the delay caused by unnecessary tests at Apollo hospital had led to the death of her husband.
"The patient was kept in Apollo hospital for 10 days despite knowing that there was no arrangement for treatment of cancer there and was unnecessarily subjected to a prolonged treatment to raise a huge bill," noted Justice J D Kapoor, in the order.
The hospital pleaded that the patient was managed with all due care and all the tests, like UGI, endoscopy, MRI and FNAC were essential to diagnose the cancer and without these tests the patient cannot be taken for specific treatment. In another case, 53-year-old M M Seth was admitted to the same hospital on August 17, 1998, with provisional diagnosis of respiratory failure and hypertension and discharged on August 20 despite claims by the family that his condition was critical. He was again admitted on 22 August and died of cardiac arrest on August 30 1998.
In their complaint to the commission, the family alleged that unnecessary tests were conducted during the eight days that Seth was in Apollo. The plea of the hospital that the patient was stable on August 19 and but when he was re-admitted, his condition was critical and had to be on a ventilator. Hence tests like bronchoscopy and further examinations were necessary, it added. However, this defence was rejected by the commission.
The commission observed that the tests should have been done at an earlier stage and "when the patient was almost at his last stage, these (tests) were unnecessary and were done with a view to extract money."
Reacting to the rulings, Dr Anupam Sibal, director medical sciences, Indraprastha Apollo hospital told TOI: "I haven't seen the orders but the hospital's legal team will file an appeal."
In yet another case, Sir Ganga Ram Hospital was also pulled up by the commission for detaining a patient for several hours — due to which her condition might have deteriorated — over non-payment of medical bills and directed it to pay Rs 25,000 compensation to one Rajiv Gupta, whose pregnant wife, Vandana, was admitted in the hospital.
After observing that Vandana's condition was getting worse and the doctors treating her were not available, Rajeev decided to take her to another hospital.
Justice Kapoor noted: "It was only due to non-clearance of the payment of dues that the patient was detained in the hospital for several hours. We deem that compensation of Rs 25,000 for the above limited deficiency and not on account of any wrong treatment."
The above is not the only illegal activity carried out by these nursing homes.
I know from personal experience that AMRI, Gariahat, Kolkata, kept a patient under the ventilator for about 10 hours just to increase his bill although the patient had died and his records showed he had passed away.
It was only when the family got suspicious and brought an outside doctor that AMRI hurriedly declared the person dead.
AMRI is not the only culprit.
I am given to understand the even Apollo Hospital and Suraksha also follow the above procedure.
As per discussion I had today with another relative, his mother was also kept under ventilator in Jaipur, although she had expired.
I would suggest that if any person is kept under ventilator, some outside doctor is brought in from time to time to monitor the records so that the hospital does not take you for your ride.
During these crisis times, the person is distraught, puzzled and in a state of shock.
These hospital authorities act like vultures over a dead body.