A private hospital in Howrah was asked by the state clinical establishment regulatory commission on Monday to return over Rs 3.7 lakh to the family of a woman who was treated in the facility for Covid last year. She was in the intensive care unit for 46 days.
Sanjiban Hospital in Howrah’s Phuleswar had charged the patient Rs 9 lakh for the 46-day stay. The woman was in non-invasive ventilation for 21 days, said an official of Sanjiban.
The commission found the hospital had charged Rs 92,000 extra as doctor’s fee.
The hospital had charged Rs 4,000 per day as doctor’s fee, though the commission had fixed Rs 2,000 as doctor’s fee for a day, said retired judge Ashim Banerjee, the chairperson of the West Bengal Clinical Establishment Regulatory Commission.
The commission also asked the hospital to return Rs 2,87,784 to the patient out of the total bill amount.
The patient was admitted under the West Bengal Health Scheme in April 2021 and had cleared the entire bill on their own. But when the bill went to the state finance department’s West Bengal Health Scheme (WBHS) desk for reimbursement, the officials rejected Rs 5 lakh out of the total bill.
“In its approval memo, the WBHS asked the hospital to return Rs 5,27,784 (to the patient party). The hospital agreed to return Rs 2,87,784. The problem arose with the remaining amount,” said Banerjee.
The hospital had already invoked arbitration and approached the state’s director of medical education before the issue came up for hearing on Monday.
Subhasis Mitra, the director of Sanjiban, told The Telegraph that the hospital was considering whether it should approach the high court against the order. “At the beginning of Monday’s hearing, we said that we had already gone for arbitration. The commission still went ahead with the hearing. We didn’t walk out merely out of respect for the chairperson,” Mitra said.
“We firmly believe that our bill is justified. We agreed to return Rs 2,87,784 simply to end the hassle. A bill of Rs 9 lakh for 46 days in ICU is not exorbitant. People have to realise that there is a cost to treatment. One cannot compare our cost with the cost incurred in a government hospital because the real value of treatment is never calculated there. It is borne by the taxpayer,” Mitra added.
On Monday, the commission asked the WBHS desk to release Rs 92,000 to the hospital as the doctor’s fee.
“The hospital had charged Rs 1,84,000 from the patient as doctor’s fee. We asked the hospital to return Rs 92,000 to the patient. At the same time we asked WBHS officials to release Rs 92,000 to the hospital,” he said.