May 23, 2009

Tata hospital Rs.100 Crore medicine scam

The medicines scam at a pharmacy attached to cancer speciality Tata Memorial Hospital-a Rs 100-crore misappropriation, according to the CBI-might not have come to light if not for a letter written by the father of a cancer patient.
M N Rao, a CISF head constable from Jhansi, had shot off a complaint letter to hospital authorities last May after his daughter was billed Rs 2,000 for an injection she was never given.

TOI had earlier reported about the CBI's claim that anti-cancer medicines worth crores had been smuggled out of the dispensary for five years, and sold to private chemists for a commission. The CBI has registered a case of cheating, conspiracy and forgery against six employees.

Rao is unaware that the issue has snowballed into a scam, but his complaint might have prevented many other cancer patients from being cheated. "It was his complaint that set the ball rolling. Some of the items on the bill looked like they had been inserted, which is why we set up an internal inquiry,'' said a senior doctor.

Rao's daughter Shruti (17) was admitted to the hospital for five months, undergoing treatment for blood cancer. "While paying, I realised that there were differences in the two bills (yellow and red) which we were given,'' said Rao, adding that he submitted an application to the medical superintendent before Shruti was discharged. "Her treatment is covered by my firm, so I was concerned about any additional costs,'' he said.

While Rao never got a reply, hospital authorities said they promptly launched an in-house inquiry. "We set up three inquiries and are cooperating with the CBI. We have computerised our billing processes to ensure that they are fool-proof,'' said hospital director Rajendra Badwe. The hospital had suspended the six staffers for 90 days so that they didn't interfere with the inquiry. They were subsequently reinstated in other departments, independent from the pharmacy.

"Patients and relatives should scrutinise their bills and shouldn't be afraid to raise questions, as it is their right to know every aspect of treatment,'' said Asha Idnani of the Council for Fair Business Practices.

Link: Original Article

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