Private hospitals, labs making money off dengue - Pakistan Today

Private hospitals, labs making money off dengue

LAHORE: Private hospitals and laboratories continue to cash in on the dengue epidemic as the dengue fear grips the city, while an increasing number of patients pour in.
A survey of major private hospitals and laboratories reveals that extremely high prices are being charged for the diagnosis and treatment of dengue and huge profits were being made out of a facility that was available free-of-cost in government hospitals.
The survey included National Hospital Defence, Doctors’ Hospital, OMC Hospital, Aadil Hospital and Chughtai Labs. Sources in the following hospitals informed Pakistan Today that there were 38 dengue patients admitted in Doctors Hospital, 25 in National Hospital and 18 in Adil Hospital. Moreover, the information officer at the National Hospital said there was no room for more dengue patients and people should take their patients to other hospitals.
Sources at Hamed Latif Hospital said that the hospital was not admitting any more dengue patients as the rooms were all occupied and their own staff were suffering from the virus as well.
EXPLOITING THE PANIC: The cost of diagnosing dengue at a private lab ranges between Rs 800 to Rs 1’050, depending upon the method and equipment being used i.e. Eliza compared to simple screening. Moreover, one platelet unit is extracted from a donor at Rs 3,300 at a Chughtai’s Lab which employs Eliza screening for hepatitis.
Prices are even more alarming at private hospitals where a single room ranges between Rs 4,500 at some hospitals to as steep as Rs 10,000 a day at Doctor’s Hospital, depending upon the executive, VIP or VVIP status of the room. This excludes the daily expenses for a doctor’s visit, nursing assistance and lab reports.
These expenses range between Rs 2,000 to Rs 4,000, again depending upon the ‘quality’ of service and the hospital. Interestingly, dengue patients are being charged Rs 2,000 to Rs 3,500 for a visit to the hospital emergency.
Talking to Pakistan Today, Allama Iqbal Medical College Principal Dr Javed Akram said the better quality Eliza screening of a donor costs not more than Rs 300 to Rs 400, adding that it was unfortunate that ‘black marketing’ was prevailing at a time when everyone was trying to fight dengue.
A senior doctor at Sir Ganga Ram Hospital said labs usually make these tests in batches to reduce the cost. Many private laboratories ‘fool’ patients by conducting simple screening and charging for Eliza. Health Parliamentary Secretary Dr Saeed Elahi said private hospitals and labs were ‘exploiting’ the situation and capitalising on the dengue fear. He said the government was providing diagnostic and treatment facilities free of cost across public hospitals.
“We have talked to the administration of various private hospitals with the latest equipment to get kits from the government and offer free facilities to patients. It is unfortunate that the private enterprises are exploiting the people instead of benefiting them,” Elahi concluded.
Private Hospitals Association Treasurer Dr Mazhar Iqbal said there was no policy to control ‘black marketing’ as all hospitals worked and set rates independently. He said many patients were approaching private hospitals, his hospital included. “Patients, who can afford, get a separate room, while many get treatment in the wards and pay accordingly.
At my hospital the ward charges are Rs 1,500 per day, while the room rent ranges between Rs 3’000 and Rs 7’000,” Iqbal said. However, he said, “It is a good suggestion [to offer special rates for dengue patients] and I will call a meeting on Monday to take a decision in this regard.”

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