The Haryana government on Tuesday ordered a probe into an allegation that Fortis Hospital in Gurgaon overcharged the family of a seven-year-old girl, who died of dengue, hours after the Centre asked it to initiate an urgent inquiry into the case.
The private hospital has denied the charge, saying the patient's kin was informed about the bill on a daily basis.
State Health Minister Anil Vij said a senior officer would investigate the case. Directions have been issued to the officer to submit the probe report at the earliest so that strict action could be taken against the guilty, he said.
He said no hospital in the state would be allowed to play with the health and sentiments of the people.
The health ministry earlier asked the Haryana government to take "exemplary" action against Fortis if "overcharging, negligence or malfeasance" were established in the case of the dengue patient.
The case relates to the death in September of the dengue patient, Adya Singh, who was admitted to Fortis Memorial Research Institute (FMRI), Gurgaon, a multi super-speciality care hospital, for 15 days.
The hospital billed her family almost Rs 16 lakh. The episode was highlighted recently on Twitter by a friend of the girl's father, who alleged the hospital charged a huge sum of money for the treatment, and the patient later died.
The Twitter posts went viral, in the wake of which Health Minister J P Nadda took cognisance of the case.
Terming the incident "very unfortunate", Nadda earlier in the day had asked Union Health Secretary Preeti Sudan to look into the case.
She in turn wrote a letter to the principal secretary of Haryana's health department, asking for an action-taken report within two weeks, following which the state government initiated the probe.
The hospital in a statement refuted the allegation and said there was no medical negligence and all standard protocols were followed in the treatment of the patient.
"Patient Adya Singh was admitted at FMRI on August 31 at 11:16 am with an initial diagnosis of severe dengue. At the time of admission, the child's condition was serious and deteriorating," the statement said.
After an MRI (brain) of the patient on September 14, her family was again explained about the critical condition of the child, after which "they took the decision to take the child Leave Against Medical Advice (LAMA)", the hospital said, adding she succumbed the same day.
A total of 750 pairs of gloves and 600 syringes during a 15-day stay is "justifiable and acceptable" when the patient is in an ICU setting. Syringes are being misrepresented as "injections" which are very different from each other, it claimed.
The hospital had yesterday claimed that an itemised bill "spread over 20 pages was explained and handed over to the family" at the time of their departure from the hospital.
All consumables are transparently reflected in records and charged according to actuals, it had claimed.
"Ventilator usage, CRRTs (continuous renal replacement therapies), multiple blood transfusions, ICU rent also add on to the cost to the patient. The total bill for the 15-day duration of hospitalisation was Rs 15,79,322.
"An amount of Rs 5,21,433 was paid by the insurance, and the balance Rs 10,37,889 was paid by the family of the child," the statement added.
"All standard medical protocols were followed in treating the patient and all clinical guidelines were adhered to," the hospital had yesterday claimed.
Asked by reporters if he was intimated regularly about the bill through text on mobile phone, Adya's father Jayant Singh alleged, "Yes, I was getting the bill and one day when I asked for a break-up of it, they said, 900 gloves were used in 6-7 days. And, when I questioned that, the number of gloves were reduced."
Congress leader Deepender Hooda hit out at Vij, alleging, "The minister is occupied with putting comic tweets. He was not elected to entertain people, and he should rather focus on his department."
Indian Medical Association President Dr K K Aggarwal said the Directorate General of Health Services (DGHS) should take over the case.
"Questions we need to ask is, whether it was a case of unnecessary treatment? Has the hospital charged for something for which it should not have? If it is a fraud, let it be investigated. But, first let the probe be done," he said.