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Delhi HC directs health ministry to bring rules to check overcharging of angioplasty procedures

Shardul Nautiyal, Mumbai
Tuesday, October 10, 2017, 08:00 Hrs  [IST]

Following a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) filed recently in Delhi High Court (HC) related to overcharging cardiac patients by hospitals in the name of angioplasty procedures, the Court has directed the Union health ministry, Goverment of India, which are respondents in the said petition to come out with a policy within 4 months period to control exhorbitant charges borne by the patients in the name of angioplasty procedure charges.

The PIL filed on cases of overcharging of cardiac stents by 38 private hospitals of the country came up for hearing at Delhi High Court (HC) recently.

A bench of acting Chief Justice Gita Mittal and Justice C Hari Shankar of Delhi HC has directed the respondents to control the rate of operation charges, doctors' visiting charges, nursing charges and to fix a policy for controlling the rate of all types of charges which are being charged as a part of angioplasty treatment for cardiac patients.

The patients are charged between Rs. 2,39,684 and Rs. 2,16,229 as angioplasty package which is a huge cost despite the fact that the National Pharmaceutical Pricing Authority (NPPA) through a notification on February 14, 2017 had fixed ceiling prices of cardiac stents with bare metal stents cost being brought down to Rs. 7,260 from Rs. 45,000 and that of drug eluting stents at Rs. 29,600.

Prior to this, the cardiac stents used to alone cost Rs. 1.2 lakh. The price control notification therefore was a huge relief for cardiac patients across the country.

The step was taken to fix a standardised specification of stent and its MRP to stop fleecing of patients. Following this, NPPA has also written to all the chief secretaries to ensure compliance of stent price capping, its availability and uninterrupted cardiac care services.

NPPA reported that there are 300 such cases of cardiac stent overcharging in which either stent price is not mentioned in the medical bill or billing is made in the name of angioplasty charges or cath lab charges and also not mentioning brand name and company of the stents. The hospitals were also found to be not mentioning the batch number and expiry dates of the stents in other cases thus misleading the patients.

The petitioner advocate Birender Sangwan had earlier filed PILs against 18 hospitals at Delhi HC for violation of ceiling prices fixed for coronary stents.

Government capped the prices of cardiac stents based on the conclusion drawn from a committee of experts in 2015 which revealed that all cardiac stents are of the same quality and therefore needs price rationalization. The move followed incorporating cardiac stents in the National List of Essential Medicines which eventually led to capping prices as per Schedule 1 of DPCO.

Meanwhile, state drug controllers across the country have also stepped up audits as part of its larger plan to detect overpricing of stents in government and private hospitals subsequent to NPPA receiving complaints about stents being sold at higher prices in hospitals at Mumbai, Delhi, UP, Ahmedabad, Pune and Nashik.

NPPA has directed hospitals/nursing homes/clinics utilizing coronary stents shall specifically and separately mention the cost of the coronary stent along with its brand name, name of the manufacturer/importer/batch number and other details, if any, in their billing to the patients or their representatives.

 

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Grant Purvez Oct 11, 2017 1:15 PM
Dr charges must be between Pt and doctor the government must not interfere It is fundamental right
 
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