Coronavirus in Mira-Bhayandar: Hospital refuses to hand over body of COVID-19 patient until kin clear Rs 2.26 lakh in dues

Bhayandar: After a 59-year-old Covid-19 patient died at a private hospital in Mira Road on Sunday, hospital authorities reportedly refused to hand over her body to her grieving family pending clearance of dues. The woman resided in the coastal area of Uttan near Bhayandar and had been undergoing treatment at the Family Care Hospital for the last 15 days.

The family's tragedy turned into a nightmare when the hospital authorities allegedly refused to hand over the body pending clearance of Rs 2.26 lakh in dues, on top of the Rs 2.60 lakh the woman's family had paid in hospital bills and the nearly Rs 2 lakh for medicines. It was only when Sena legislator Pratap Sarnaik and local mediapersons intervened was her body released to her relatives.

The hospital had billed the family a whopping Rs 4,86,067 for the 15-day treatment, which includes Rs.52,500 for PPE kits and Rs. 45,000 towards care and hygiene charges. However, the hospital authorities claimed they had not violated any norms. Owned by a former BJP legislator, the hospital building has been rented out to a private medical establishment.

As per the provisions of the Epidemic Diseases Act, the government has regulated 80 per cent usage of bed capacity of private hospitals (excluding beds in PICU, NICU, daycare, maintenance and haemodialysis), while capping prices of treatments that can be billed to patients. However, there have been numerous complaints of exorbitant bills by some private players who were not cooperating with patients, even as the civic body continues to turn a blind eye towards these fleecing tactics. The MBMC panel formed to audit bills of Covid-19 patients remains on paper. Hospitals are being allowed to charge their own rates for the remaining 20 per cent beds.

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