The state’s health regulatory commission will send a team to Fortis Hospital in Anandapur in east Kolkata to find out why there are multiple allegations of excess billing against it.
Retired judge Ashim Banerjee, chairperson of the West Bengal Clinical Establishment Regulatory Commission, said on Tuesday the team would conduct an audit of last one month’s bills at the private hospital and file a report.
“We had cautioned the hospital on four or five occasions and also penalised them for not following the advisories of the commission. Yet they have been doing this repeatedly,” he said.
When contacted by this newspaper, an official of Fortis Hospital, Anandapur, said: “The hospital will cooperate with the commission and provide all support required.”
According to the commission, the family of a 69-year-old patient from Bihar had brought charges of excess billing against the hospital.
Nabijaan Bibi was admitted to the hospital on January 28 with multiple ailments. After a 42-day stay at Fortis, the family got her discharged and took her to another hospital, where she is still undergoing treatment.
“The total bill was Rs 24,15,102, of which the patient party had paid Rs 5.5 lakh. A balance of Rs 18,65,102 is pending. We have seen the bills and found several areas of excess billing. We have asked the patient party to pay Rs 16 lakh, instead of Rs 18.65 lakh…. We have asked them to start paying in instalments after four months,” Banerjee said.
There was also a case of negligence against the Rashbehari Avenue unit of the hospital. The commission apparently found an excess billing of Rs 14,879 and asked the hospital to return the amount to the patient’s family.
The commission said Fortis Hospital had on multiple occasions failed to adhere to its advisories on expensive drugs. The commission has issued a series of advisories on capping medicine prices and the rates of some diagnostic tests.
The commission also found two other private hospitals in the city - Arogya Maternity and Nursing Home and Lords Health Care - guilty of excess billing and asked them to refund the money.
Arogya Maternity and Nursing Home, on Tollygunge Circular Road, was asked to refund Rs 65,000 to a person who had got admitted for Covid treatment.
When this newspaper called the landline number mentioned in the hospital’s website, an official who introduced himself as Prosenjit Halder said: “We are yet to get the order. A government order from the regulatory body has to be followed.”
Lords Health Care, in Howrah, was asked to return Rs 75,000 to a patient.
“We had explained all our package details to the elderly patient who came here with pneumonia and Covid. He was also given a discount of Rs 7,000 at the time of discharge…. Long after that his family reported against us. We will follow the commission’s order,” said general manager of the hospital, S. Dutta.