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Telangana HC Directs Enquiry into Overcharging of Covid-19 Patient, Pvt Hospital Releases Body

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The Judge expressed unhappiness about the high bills charged by private hospitals for treatment of COVID-19 patients and observed it was against the guidelines and rates fixed by the government.

The Telangana High Court on Friday directed the state health officials to conduct an enquiry into alleged overcharging by a private hospital here for treating a COVID-19 patient, who died two days ago, as it expressed displeasure about such high charges.

The hospitals counsel informed the court that the body of the man was handed over (to civic authorities) and the cremation performed on Friday afternoon.

Justice Vinod Kumar passed the order on a petition by the victim's wife, a daily wage labourer, who had also submitted that the hospital refused to hand over the body citing pending dues of Rs 6.41 lakh toward treatment charges. The woman''s 49-year-old husband, who worked as a watchman, was admitted to the hospital on July 13 with high fever and respiratory problems, later tested positive for COVID-19 and and died on July 22.

The Judge expressed unhappiness about the high bills charged by private hospitals for treatment of COVID-19 patients and observed it was against the guidelines and rates fixed by the government. The woman in her petition has alleged that the hospital management did not hand over her husband''s remains over non- payment of balance amount of treatment cost to the tune of Rs 6.41 lakh against the total bill of Rs 8.91 lakh.

She had paid Rs 2.50 lakh after borrowing it. Seeking to declare the hospital''s actions as illegal and arbitrary, she requested the court to issue an order directing the hospital to hand over her husbands body without insisting on the payment of the balance amount.

Her counsel Y Balaji argued that the hospital charged an amount of Rs 8.91 lakh for the patient for nine days which is very high and against the Telangana Government''s Order fixing the charges for private hospitals. He submitted that as per the GO, the hospital has to charge only Rs 81,000 (ICU with ventilator and isolation charges of Rs 9,000 per day) but it raised a total bill of Rs 8.91 lakh and demanded payment of the balance for handing over the body.

Directing the state health authorities to conduct an enquiry into the high charges levied by the hospital, the judge ordered the hospital, the state Home and Health departments to file their counter respective affidavits within six weeks and posted the matter after that for further hearing.