‘Private hospitals forcing COVID-19 test on patients’

Alleging that many private hospitals are fleecing patients on the pretext of conducting COVID-19 test, social activist and former bureaucrat E.A.S. Sarma on Tuesday wrote to the government seeking action against the malpractice.

In an email to Special Chief Secretary (Health) K.S. Jawahar Reddy, Mr. Sarma said that he had come across a case of a private hospital charging a patient from a low-income group ₹10,000 for carrying out COVID-19 test as a pre-requisite for a surgical procedure on him for a different disease.

Giving details of the case, Mr. Sarma said the patient suffering from a kidney ailment was referred by the ESI to a private hospital here for a possible surgical procedure.

“The doctors at the hospital told the patient that they would initially conduct a COVID test before going for the surgery to ensure that the patient had not got infected by the virus already,” said Mr Sarma.

‘Exorbitant charge’

The doctor also indicated that the patient had to pay ₹10,000 for COVID test and the patient belonging to the low-income group could not afford it. The expenditure to be incurred was not covered by Aarogyasri scheme.

“It appears that many private hospitals in Visakhapatnam and the other cities are fleecing the patients in the name of COVID test. The hospitals are making it mandatory for the patients suffering from other ailments to undergo COVID test and charging exorbitant amounts for it. This calls for a quick government intervention,” he said.

Mr. Sarma further said the case in question has been brought to the notice of Collector V. Vinay Chand, who has promised appropriate action.

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