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Special unit to act on complaints against private hospitals

6 April 2013 01:45 am - 17     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

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A special unit is being set up to handle public complaints against private healthcare institutions and take punitive action where necessary, a Health Ministry spokesman said.

It is based on a directive by Health Minister Maithripala Sirisena to Director General Health Services (DGHS) to set up a special unit under the Private Health Services Regulatory Council Act  (PHSRA) of 2008 after receiving shocking information about ‘black marketing’ of patients by private hospitals.

The minister heard of complaints received by the Private Health Services Regulatory Council (PHSRC) from the public on exorbitant fees charged by so-called popular and prestigious private hospitals at the monthly meeting of ‘Eminent Persons Committee’ held on Wednesday at the National Blood Transfusion Unit in Narahenpita.

The minister was told that a well-known private hospital at Colombo 5 had charged one patient for 100 injections and 200 surgical gloves used up on a single day. The complainant had sent the copy of the bill to the PHSRC.

When a relative of the patient, who happens to be a senior Health Ministry official confronted the private hospital management with the bill they had not only drastically reduced the charge but had also apologized to him.

Another complaint was that a popular private hospital had charged Rs.72,000 for drugs given to his mother for six days at the hospital. On top of that the hospital had added a 10% surcharge for the drugs. The total bill for three days’ stay at the private hospital was more than Rs.142,000.

When the shocked complainant asked for a breakdown of the bill for the drugs given he had found that the private hospital had charged Rs.14,000 for three doses of 500 mg Meronem injections. But when he checked with a pharmacy that he visited regularly, he found that the actual price of the drug was Rs.2,600 only. The private hospital charge for another drug Panum IV 40 mg was Rs.1,443 at the private hospital while the normal price was Rs.315. The surcharge for drugs was Rs.6,700.

What’s more, the three good doctors who attended to this patient had prescribed 93 drugs and injections during his three-day stay that took the bill to dizzy heights.

Another leading private hospital is alleged to have charged Rs.100,000 for two pints of blood while they obtain blood from the Blood Bank free-of-charge. The Blood Bank charges Rs 550 a pint only for the kit that holds the blood.

The discussion also focused on excessive charges by medical specialists for consultation. The minister was told that some medical specialists charge a patient extremely high fees between Rs.2,000 and Rs.5,000 for a few minutes of consultation.

The minister asked that immediate inquiries be carried out on complaints received against private hospitals and to take action under the PHSRA.

“The main weakness of the current Act is that the Health Ministry has no power to enter a private hospital and conduct an inquiry. It also does not have power to put a ceiling on the exorbitant prices charged at channel practices and by private hospitals and nursing homes,” a spokesman said.

The minister also instructed Health Secretary Dr. Nihal Jayatilaka to expedite the process of amending the PHSRA and hold discussions with the Legal Draftsman. The proposed amendments will bring the prices charged for drugs, medical equipment, indoor patient care, surgeries and medical tests to an affordable level varying with the rankings of the hospital and based on the facilities provided by each private hospital.

The amendments are expected to the PHSRC more teeth to enable the DGHS or his deputy to entertain public complaints against private hospitals, nursing homes and private medical practitioners /specialists by the public and take legal action against them

There are about 260 private hospitals and nursing homes and about 1,000 private laboratories, channel services and ambulance services. The number of private medical practitioners in the country is about 10,000.

The minister said he is determined to present the draft Act in Parliament before the end of this year after consulting Attorney General. (Sandun A. Jayasekera)
 
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  Comments - 17

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  • Dilina Saturday, 06 April 2013 05:41 AM

    I fervently believe this as a very positive move by the governmenta as this is a long felt need of the country. I too endorsed the claims made in this article as facts. I would like to ask any relevant party close to the management of private hospitals if they have a structured costing mechanism to assign different costs to each inpatient.

    never4get Saturday, 06 April 2013 12:00 AM

    the minister has given a directive to the DGHS to set up a unit, and a complaint has already has been sentbefore the committee is even constituted! This is very funny via DM Android App

    Mohan Saturday, 06 April 2013 12:00 AM

    Another opening for bribery. via DM Android App

    ANTON Saturday, 06 April 2013 03:55 AM

    WHY ONLY PRIVATE HOSPITALS WHAT ABOUT GOVERNMENT HOSPITALS.

    Ganeshan Saturday, 06 April 2013 09:04 AM

    Manag pharmacists who are licensed and they do not pursue their own medical store but they sell their consent to any and second runs. there is no good without a pharmacist at the store.

    mad man Saturday, 06 April 2013 12:00 AM

    colombo 5 leading hospitals chairman is GR.... will the action be taken via DM Android App

    ruan dayananda Saturday, 06 April 2013 04:02 AM

    Speical unit to act on complaints against private hospitals

    come on - SPECIAL ...

    Paul Saturday, 06 April 2013 09:24 AM

    Hope this unit is not the ministers units to make it worse

    Ravanan power Monday, 08 April 2013 12:00 AM

    It s good move same time control the doctors consulting fee.Coz they educated by free education. via DM Android App

    Prof Hemantha Wickra Saturday, 06 April 2013 04:28 AM

    Very good move....

    Prof Hemantha Wickra Saturday, 06 April 2013 04:30 AM

    hope it wont be another COPE, though...

    Jagath Leanage Saturday, 06 April 2013 07:13 AM

    Very good move. Hope this "special unit" will do the job properly and will not be just another "UNIT" similar to others.

    Citizen Perera Saturday, 06 April 2013 10:34 AM

    Some private hospitals are safe heaven for drug dealers, rapists to escape from arrests.

    MagodisThuma Saturday, 06 April 2013 04:53 AM

    OMG...They are going to close all the private hospitals !

    Sonali De Silva Saturday, 06 April 2013 08:04 AM

    Good move if implemented. I was charged Rs 15,000 from a PVT hospital in Colombo 2 for a scan and a 12hr stay in the room 4 years ago. No reason was given for the exorbitant bill.

    Bushel Saturday, 06 April 2013 05:15 AM

    Kerena wadak da?

    Kodithuwakkuarachchi Saturday, 06 April 2013 08:19 AM

    Make one for private schools aswell.


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