Hyderabad: Taking serious note of private hospitals fleecing COVID-19 patients via inflated treatment bills, the Telangana High Court, to stop hospitals from overcharging patients, on 17 May directed the state government to issue an order fixing the maximum price for COVID-related treatment within 48 hours and display the same on the official website.
A Bench comprising Chief Justice Hima Kohli and Justice B. Vijayasen Reddy slammed the government for failing to act on the compliances. It is pertinent to note that in 2020, the government had passed an order fixing capping the rates of certain COVID-19 treatments offered by private hospitals. However, paying no heed to the orders, private hospitals continue to fleece patients. The court observed that the order now stands 'outdated' and there is an urgent need for a revised order.
"Why has the government not capped the prices of PPE kits, CT and MRI scan, and other investigative blood tests, given that these are the basic testes one has to go through to diagnose COVID-19? In the second wave, the medical requirements have drastically changed. The state government is directed to examine the above aspects with all seriousness and then issue a GO in this regard," said Chief Justice Hima Kohli.
The court pointed out that during the earlier hearing it had directed the government to conduct over one lakh tests per day. However, various reports suggest that the tests have dwindled to 50,000 per day. "The constant repetition of the court to enhance the tests, both RT-PCR and Rapid Antigen Tests, has fallen on deaf ears. It is observed via reports that only 13 out of 33 districts are conducting 20,000 tests. The state (referring to the advocate general) has submitted an incomplete break-up of the number of tests being conducted," the Bench observed.
The HC came down heavily on the government for adding 390 hospitals that do not provide COVID-19 treatment to the Telangana COVID real-time dashboard. "What the state is reflecting on the COVID dashboard is absolutely contrary to the reality and the figures are questionable. The government must cross-check and exclude such hospitals to suit the ground reality," Chief Justice Kohli said.
In view of the rising cases of Mucormycorsis (black fungus), Chief Justice Kohli asked the government not to distribute steroids in isolated kits without doctor's prescription as it falls under scheduled drug.
The court also took note of the number of teachers who were deputed for election duty and got infected. Fifteen of them had later died. The Bench asked the government to treat all infected teachers on par with COVID warriors and render monetary help to those who have succumbed.
Meanwhile, the court expressed satisfaction on the way lockdown is being implemented in the state. The three police commissioners got a pat on their back for strictly enforcing lockdown during Eid. The Director General of Police in an affidavit to the court, informed that a number of cases (no mask, violation of social distance) have been booked against violators.