Over the last five days alone, 12 such patients have died on their way to Gandhi Hospital. According to authorities, most of these patients are from rural areas and far-off districts who first get admitted to small and mid-sized private hospitals in Hyderabad. Through the course of treatment, when are unable to pay any more, they are redirected to government hospitals.
“The ones who are exhausting their resources early into the treatment are coming to us in time and we are able to save them. But many are coming to us so late that not much can be done. We have at least two-three patients being brought dead each day, ”said Dr M Raja Rao, superintendent, Gandhi Hospital that’s attending to all critical cases of Covid-19.
Similar instances are being reported from the Telangana Institute of Medical Sciences (TIMS), admit officers. “A lot of patients we are getting here are coming from private hospitals. They were already admitted in some hospitals and were redirected to us when they could not pay for treatment any further, ”said Dr Ehsan Ahmed Khan, superintendent, TIMS.
Along with more patients rushing to private facilities, there’s also a surge in grievances against hospitals – again much like what was being reported during this time last year. In one such complaint, a patient said that he was charged Rs 50,000 per day – for three days – at a private hospital, under the pretext of being Covid-19 positive. “When he later went to an independent lab to get tested, he found that he was Covid negative,” said a source from the state health department.
This urge for private hospital treatment, despite the experiences that people underwent last year, is the real problem, say some experts. “It is perceived that the private sector gives us better service, although there is no difference in treatment seen in private and government sectors. There is a need to sensitize people and stress that people should not panic and run to private hospitals even if they have minor symptoms. That creates an artificial shortage of beds, ”said Professor Subodh Kandamuthan, director, Center for Healthcare Management, Administrative Staff College of India (ASCI).