RGICD slaps hefty bills on TB patients despite their BPL status

RGICD slaps hefty bills on TB patients despite their BPL status

RGICD slaps hefty bills on TB patients despite their BPL status

Poor patients at the state-run Rajiv Gandhi Institute of Chest Diseases (RGICD) are slapped with hefty bills for treatment despite providing credentials to prove their BPL status.

The hospital, which once treated 90% of its patients for free, has been billing their treatment from the beginning of this year.

This also runs contrary to the Programme Management of Drug-Resistant TB, which says every patient with that condition should be treated for free.

Experts say the institute must treat tuberculosis patients, especially multi-drug-resistant tuberculosis (MDR TB) and extensively drug-resistant tuberculosis (XDR TB).

"We presented our BPL card, but we're (still) asked to pay the bill," said the wife of Krishnappa (55), who was admitted on March 4 and was served a Rs 5,000 bill for admission, treatment and medicine. He was yet to be discharged as on Wednesday.

Another patient, who did not wish to be named, said he had been in the hospital for the past 20 days and was served a bill amounting to Rs 7,000.

"If the patient has a BPL card, we direct the clerical staff to include them under one of the health schemes that will ensure free treatment," said former director of RGICD, Dr Shashidhar Buggi, adding that 90% of the patients are supposed to be treated for free.

A senior doctor at the institute confirmed that the hospital had been charging the patients, beginning January.

The Programme Management of Drug-Resistant Tuberculosis notes that free treatment should include examining the patient, ancillary drugs - including antibiotics - bed charges and provision for food.

The doctor said wards were now billed anywhere between Rs 2,000 and Rs 7,000, depending on the duration of the patient's stay.

"We get at least 30 patients a month with drug-resistant TB, with varying degrees of drug resistance. Many are from poor families. The institution is supposed to treat them for free, no matter what their financial condition is," he
said.

Karnataka's Director of Medical Education Dr S Sacchidanand said he was unaware of the situation at RGICD. "I'll inquire about the incidents," he said.

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