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Since 1st March, 1999
 
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Monitor men for medicare

6A 24-year-old was admitted to a city nursing home for a gall-bladder operation. The nursing home authorities rolled out a ‘package’ of Rs 15,000 for the entire procedure. But, at the time of discharge, he was slapped with a bill for Rs 70,000. When questioned, the nursing home authorities clarified that the “extra amount” had been charged for providing a lot of “'extra services” , like calling up several specialists, conducting various tests and purchasing special medicines, beyond the promised package. The youth’s family had to sell some valuables to bring him back home.

Alarmed at growing cases of patients being ripped off at several hospitals and nursing homes in the city, where norms set by the government exist to be flouted, the authorities have decided to form a task force to monitor the functioning of private health centres.

The task force, comprising senior health department officials, retired physicians and representatives from private health institutions, will have powers to take action against a nursing home or hospital found “guilty” of such action.

According to health department officials, the healthcare watchdog will do the rounds of nursing homes and hospitals and submit periodical reports to the health department, along with observations and recommendations. A blot in the book may lead to punitive action, and might even result in the cancellation of licence.

The government decision follows several allegations that have reached it, stating how many clinics and hospitals were cheating patients in the name of providing treatment.

“We welcome private organisations to the healthcare and management system because we believe they have an important role to play,” said health minister Surjya Kanta Mishra. “But we will not allow them to flout the norms and play with innocent human lives.”

Director of medical education C.R. Maity said rules for running nursing homes and other health establishments were being formulated. A comprehensive list of dos and don’ts will be distributed to all private hospitals and nursing homes, within a month.

“Private healthcare establishments have every right to decide how their nursing home will function, the cost and method of treatment. But the government must keep a watch whether they are cheating people or flouting rules,” added Maity.

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