Refund order to AMRI and Iris hospitals
The West Bengal Clinical Establishment Regulatory Commission on Monday ordered AMRI Hospitals and Iris Multispeciality Hospital to refund various amounts to patients’ families after it found that the hospitals did not offer discounts on medicines, consumables and tests.
Retired judge Ashim Banerjee, the commission’s chairperson, said the refunds were ordered because the hospitals did not adhere to various advisories issued by the commission over time.
The commission asked AMRI Dhakuria to return around Rs 1.17 lakh to the family of a 58-year-old man who was admitted to the hospital with Covid-19 in June.
Banerjee said the commission found that the hospital did not offer discounts on “medicines, consumables, pathology and radiology”.
“We have asked the hospital to return Rs 1,17,270. The hospital has promised to return the money within a month,” said Banerjee.
AMRI Mukundapur has been asked to return Rs 60,000 to a patient’s family for not offering similar discounts. The 51-year-old resident from Howrah’s Santragachhi was treated at the hospital between June 27 and July 10.
Rupak Barua, the group CEO of AMRI Hospitals, told Metro the hospitals were following all advisories.
“One of the cases today pertained to a patient who had medical insurance. The commission had earlier said that its advisories would not apply to patients with medical insurance coverage. Now it has said the discounts have to be offered on the portion of the bill paid by the patient’s relatives themselves. We have agreed to this,” said Barua.
The commission has asked Iris Multispeciality Hospital in Ganguly Bagan to return Rs 1 lakh to a patient’s family for the same reason.
“We examined the bill and found that the discounts were not offered. They also did not follow the advisory on doctors’ fees. We have asked the hospital to return Rs 1 lakh. The hospital will return the money in four instalments,” said Banerjee.
The hospital was also cautioned for demanding Rs 1 lakh in advance while admitting the patient.
“The patient party was asked to deposit Rs 1 lakh, but they did not have the amount with them. They alleged that hospital employees misbehaved with them. Finally, the patient party had to inform police, who turned up to get the patient admitted. The patient’s family gave some amount during admission and had to give it in writing that they would deposit the remaining amount the next day,” said Banerjee.
“The hospital could not give any justification for demanding Rs 1 lakh in advance. We have cautioned that we will take action (against them) if similar complaints come again,” Banerjee said.
An official of Iris hospital refused to comment.
In August last year, the commission had asked private hospitals to offer Covid-19 patients discounts on the maximum retail price (MRP) of medicines and consumables to lessen the burden on patients or their families.
The commission had fixed a 10 per cent discount on medicines and 20 per cent on consumables. If hospitals were unable to offer the discount, they should allow a patient’s family to buy medicines and consumables from outside where discounts are offered, the commission had mentioned in the advisories.
Later, the commission issued another advisory saying that the discounts should be offered to all non-Covid patients as well.
The commission had also said that a hospital could charge up to Rs 2,000 as doctor’s consultation fee if a doctor visited a patient more than once in a day. For one visit a day, the fee was capped at Rs 1,000.