Pune: The COVID-19 gear, better known as Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) kits, for doctors and health workers in private hospitals has become a new source of income in Pune.
Hospitals are becoming increasingly wealthy and are imposing arbitrary bills. One doctor treats many patients with the same PPE kits, but hospitals are allegedly looting money from patients by charging the same kit to multiple patients, without dividing the cost among the other patients.
Since COVID-19 is highly contagious, doctors and nurses have been given PPE kits for prevention purposes. Prices in the market range from Rs 250 per quintal (wholesale) to Rs 1,500.
According to government regulations, hospitals are allowed to charge patients only 10 per cent of the cost of PPE kits. However, it appears that patients are being arbitrarily charged without disclosing how much they have taken. A COVID-19 patient appears to be swindling Rs 30,000 to Rs 50,000 under the name of PPE kit till they are cured.
A COVID-19 patient was treated for eight days at a private hospital in Ambegaon. The patient was billed for four PPE kits per day. For eight-days, 32 PPE kits were billed at Rs 32,000 per kit.
No capping from the government
The government has capped the package on how much to charge patients for coronavirus. However, it does not include the PPE kit. So, according to the number of PPE kits used, 10 per cent profit of the purchase should be charged. In addition, private hospitals are taking advantage of the lack of clear guidelines on which PPE kits should be used for which patients.
"These kits are now cheaper than before. COVID-19 patients are being robbed by these hospitals for not including the PPE kit in their package. The government should have increased the existing patient package but included the PPE kit. It has been observed that a patient is charged Rs 1,200 per PPE kit for 12 days at Rs 42,000." Dr Abhijit More, Jan Arogya Abhiyan said to Sakal Times.