New Delhi: “Vasundhara Raje is considered the bahu of my district Dholpur in Rajasthan. Yet, if we had a proper functioning health facility in our district, we wouldn’t have had to go to Gwalior and then to Medanta hospital in Gurgaon,” says Gopendra Singh Parmar, father of Shaurya Prathap.
Seven-year-old Prathap died of dengue last November, while admitted to Medanta hospital. His family was handed a bill of Rs 16 lakh.
Parmar is an insurance agent and says the costs have sunk his family into financial distress. He breaks into tears at a press conference in Delhi, and says later that his wife has gone into a depression, unable to recover from the trauma of their little boy’s death.
“My child died of dengue. From PM to CM, I’ve tried every government office for help,” he says.
Parmar has been trying to file an FIR against Medanta over the death of his son. He has, however, not been successful.
“We have just been chasing authority after authority. The police is not allowing us to file an FIR. Medanta hospital has not given us a breakup of our bill,” he says. “We come to private hospitals because public hospitals don’t work. When we come to private hospitals, we get looted.”
While Parmar has not been able to pursue this case legally, another father has been able to do so over the death of his daughter.
Jayant Singh is the father of seven-year-old Adya Singh. Adya had been admitted to Fortis Hospital, also in Gurgaon. She suffered from dengue shock syndrome. Her family was given a bill of around Rs 16 lakh. She also died despite the treatment.
“My story is the same as Gopendra’s,” says Jayant.
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This week, the National Pharmaceutical Pricing Agency (NPPA) also put out a study which analysed the bills of four recent, prominent cases of high pricing by private hospitals – cases of Prathap and Adya are among the four studied.
NPPA’s study concluded that private hospitals like Fortis and Medanta were making profits up to 1737%, and both the fathers, Parmar and Jayant, referred to this report several times.
Adya’s case has had far more progress. But clearly not enough, and her father says, “One inquiry report about Fortis Hospital came out on December 8, 2017. It’s been two months since then and nothing much has happened.”
In Adya’s case, a message posted on Twitter about her death went viral. It was picked up by the press and the health minister J.P. Nadda. As The Wire reported, the health ministry then directed the Haryana state government to launch an investigation.
“The hospital disposes off the patients in unethical manner,” said a report of the Haryana government on the handling of Adya’s case by Fortis Hospital. Adya’s parents said Fortis had refused to assist the family even to the extent of refusing them an ambulance. “They must ensure all facilities for transfer/transport to home or other hospitals,” says the government’s report.
In December, the NPPA also studied the bills by Fortis in Adya’s case, which amounted to about Rs 16 lakh. Like in the new study, they analysed the margins of profit which the hospital was making on its bulk procurement prices of medical items.
Adya’s family has been able to file an FIR and they expect the chargesheet to be filed soon as the three-month deadline for this is nearly up.
Adya’s father Jayant is also looking to file a writ petition in the Supreme Court. He says his petition will focus on the “corporate, endemic and systemic loot that is being encouraged by such large corporate hospitals, who are more interested in meeting their corporate targets, than administering to the clinical requirements of large number of patients.”
His petition says that Fortis Hospital had engaged in “wrong treatment,” for “blatant profiteering.” His petition will also ask the court to pass orders for more effective regulatory mechanisms on cases of medical negligence and for patients to be able to exercise their rights in a stronger way.