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Private hospital in Kolkata asked cash-strapped patient's relative to keep FD papers, house-deed as security deposit

One of Kolkata's reputed hospitals - Apollo had allegedly forced the relative of a patient to deposit their fixed deposit (FD) certificate and house deed after they failed to clear the full hospital fee amounting to Rs 7.23 lakh.

Later, the hospital authorities had no other option but to return a sum of Rs 4.63 lakh along with those documents.

On Wednesday, chief minister Mamata Banerjee had directed private hospitals to mend their ways and be more humane to patients. She even announced setting up of a Health Regulatory Commission to monitor the activities of private hospitals.

On February 16, Sanjoy Roy, a resident of Dankuni, met with a road accident near Howrah's Baltikuri. He was taken to the emergency ward of Apollo Hospitals at around 2 pm. He sustained injuries to his chest and abdomen. The liver was badly lacerated which led to an internal haemorrhage. Senior doctor Shyamal Sarkar and Usha Goenka kept him under their observation.

The medical super of the Apollo Hospitals Partha Bhattacharya said, the patient party spoke of their financial constraints and sought a transfer to SSKM hospital. The Apollo Hospitals provided an ambulance, oxygen cylinder and two doctors to transport the patient safely to SSKM. The patient was transferred from Apollo at around 9 pm.

However, the hospital authorities denied the allegations that they took the FD paper and house deed from Roy. "We did not take any house deed. It is untrue. But one of the relatives of Sanjoy Roy gave us that FD certificate of his own will. We did not demand it from them," clarified chief operating officer Joy Bhattacharya, Apollo Hospitals.

However, Madan Mitra, who was present at SSKM when the patient was declared dead, hit out at Apollo authorities. He called up a senior administrative officer of Apollo hospital and said, the hospital should immediately refund the entire amount which was deposited by the deceased's family. Thereafter, the hospital returned the money and the FD paper.

Mitra said it was sheer negligence on the part of Apollo Hospitals that led to the patient's death. "The SSKM authorities told me that the patient should have been released much earlier. He could have been revived had he reached SSKM in time," Mitra added.

In another case, Medica Superspecialty Hospital, another well-known Kolkata hospital has returned Rs 1.40 lakh to the relative of a patient who was admitted with dengue. However, in this case, Ajoy Mondal, the patient is now out of danger. But his relatives found it difficult to bear the exorbitant hospital fees. Later, Medica Superspecialty Hospital's Medical Director Soumen Basu waived off the Rs 1.40 lakh fee.

The plight of Ajoy Mondal's hapless relatives who were struggling to foot the Rs 1.4 lakh bill of Medica Superspecialty came into the spotlight after leading news channel 'Bangla Time' took up cudgels on their behalf.

Medica Superspecialty Hospital's Medical Director Soumen Basu said he got phone calls from 'Bangla Time' on the financial constraints of patient Ajoy Mondal, a resident of Mukundapur. "Getting the call from Bangla Time, We waived their hospital fees. The patient is much better now and is able to communicate with his relatives," Basu said.
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