Hyderabad: The State Health Department is closely monitoring the growing instances of corporate hospitals in Hyderabad indulging in unnecessarily inflating medical bills while treating Covid-19 patients during the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.
Senior health officials have said that individual cases of patients getting harassed over medical bills, private hospitals not extending treatment to critical patients on the pretext of lack of beds, not displaying charges for Covid-19 treatment clearly at the entrance or the lobby, and other violations are being tracked by the department.
Since the services of private hospitals are needed during the time of a pandemic, the health department is willing to a give a long rope to private health care establishments. However, action will be taken on private health institutions over brazen malpractice while treating Covid-19 patients, senior officials said.
During a pandemic, all private health care facilities fall under the jurisdiction of the State government. Under the Epidemic Diseases Act of 1897 which was invoked for the first time in Telangana on March 21, the State government through senior health authorities is empowered to take stringent measures against private medical establishments.
The Act empowers certain officers of the State government to take all such measures as may be necessary to contain the spread of the Covid-19. The Telangana Epidemic Diseases (Covid-19) Regulations-2020 framed under Epidemics Act says that any institution or organisation violating regulations shall be deemed to have committed an offence punishable under section 188 of IPC (45 of 1860).
The empowered officers may penalise any institution or organisation found violating provisions of these regulations on any further orders issued by the government under these regulations.
“We are maintaining some silence because their services are also required during the time of the Covid-19 crisis. However, it does not mean that we are not vigilant and ignoring the developments or complaints from patients,” senior health officials said.
In the coming days, in case instances of such complaints continue to rise, the State health wing will start registering complaints and district health authorities will conduct necessary inquiries into the allegations of the patients over private hospitals.
The Health Department also urged patients not to rely too much on private medical facilities and ignore the treatment prowess of government hospitals. “It should be kept in mind that private health care establishments throughout the country have learnt from the experiences gained by public-run hospitals during Covid-19 treatment. We were the first facilities who treated Covid-19 patients,” health officials said.
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