TNM found several diagnostic centres in the city charging beyond the government fixed price of Rs 500 for RT-PCR tests.

A technician collecting nasal sample from a woman Image for representation | PTI
Coronavirus Coronavirus Wednesday, April 28, 2021 - 17:03

When 29-year-old Dheeraj* (name changed), a resident of Alwal in Secunderabad, showed symptoms of COVID-19, he underwent an RT-PCR test at Tenet Diagnostics Centre in Vikrampuri on April 23. While the rate for the COVID-19 test is capped at Rs 500, Dheeraj was charged Rs 1,000.

“A diagnostic centre close to my house was charging Rs 500, but they were taking only pre-booked patients. I had to book a slot, which was taking time. So I went to Tenet, without realising that they were charging double the amount,” he said.

It’s not just one private diagnostic centre that is exploiting the situation, several of them are violating the government fixed cap. TNM contacted at least seven medical labs in Hyderabad. Five of them quoted different prices ranging from Rs 1,000 to Rs 1,300 while two of them quoted Rs 850, which was the price before it was revised in December 2020. Doctor C is charging Rs 1,299 for home testing while Lucid Diagnostic Centre is charging Rs 1,150 for home testing and Rs 850 for sample collection at the centre. Nikhil Hospital in Srinagar Colony is charging Rs 850 for sample collection at the centre. Vijaya Diagnostics is charging Rs 1,070 for home testing and Rs 500 for sample collection. Apollo Diagnostics is charging Rs 990 for home collection.

As per the revised rates, a cap of Rs 500 is fixed for samples collected at labs and Rs 750 is fixed for home collection of samples.

With no government intervention, private labs are continuing to fleece patients. “I didn’t know whom to complain, and as I tested positive too, I had other worries,” lamented Dheeraj.

The exploitation is not limited to just RT-PCR tests. While there is no cap on the High-Resolution Computed Tomography test – another procedure to identify the presence of the COVID-19 virus – private diagnostic centres in Telangana are charging about Rs 6,500. The average rate in other states is roughly Rs 3,000.

Dr Sanjeev Singh Yadav, National Secretary for Indian Medical Association’s Academy of Medical Specialities (AMS), who is also the IMA Telangana’s Vice President, said that the government should fix a cap and help patients. He had further said, “Even if capped, it will only be effective if action is taken based on the complaints the government will receive, only then does execution become easy. Not just capping, monitoring is also necessary.”

Meanwhile, with the list of such complaints against private hospitals and diagnostic centres increasing, Telangana Health Minister Eatala Rajender on Tuesday said though they received complaints of violations by private hospitals, they do not want to take action against them and instead appealed to them to stop such unethical practices.

“It’s not a good thing for hospitals to harass people with the intent of making money. Since we’re engaged in the duty of saving lives, we don’t want to send teams and shut down these centres. Let me reiterate, please follow the government orders,” the Minister appealed.

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