Patients forced to pay as high as Rs 6500 for HRCT scan in Telangana

Several states like Andhra Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand and Maharashtra have capped the rates of CT and HRCT scans to prevent patients from being fleeced.
A representative image of a patient undergoing a CT Scan
A representative image of a patient undergoing a CT Scan
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After Andhra Pradesh joined other states like Chhattisgarh and Maharashtra in capping the rate of High-Resolution Computed Tomography (HRCT) scan, the demand in the neighbouring state of Telangana to follow suit has grown louder. An HRCT scan is one of the three important methods being used to diagnose COVID-19.

While Andhra Pradesh has capped the price of CT/HRCT scans at Rs 3,000, Maharashtra fixed the rate at Rs 2,500; and in Chhattisgarh, the private hospitals can charge a maximum of Rs 2,354 for an HRT scan with contrast, and Rs 1,870 for a CT scan without contrast. In Jharkhand, the price of an HRCT is capped between Rs 2,500 and 3,000.    

Rapid Antigen Test and Real-Time PCR (RT-PCR) test are the two other ways predominantly used to diagnose COVID-19. While these two tests use swabs collected from the nose and the throat of the patient, the HRCT is an imaging test wherein Computed Tomography is used to image the lungs.

To find out the price of an HRCT in Telangana, TNM reached out to people who recently got the scan done as part of their COVID-19 diagnosis and we also spoke to diagnostic centres offering the scan. It was found that hospitals and diagnostic labs in Telangana are charging up to Rs 6,500 for the scan. Apart from the rate of the scan, some diagnostic labs and hospitals were also found to be charging for PPE kits.

Speaking to TNM, Dr Sanjeev Singh Yadav, National Secretary for Indian Medical Association’s Academy of Medical Specialities (AMS), who is also IMA Telangana’s Vice President, said, “There are times when the RT-PCR is negative but the CT Scan indicates COVID-19 infection. Most doctors are asking for these tests to gauge the presence and extent of the infection, and to also decide the treatment. Depending on the combination of all the test results, the need for hospitalisation and treatment plan are being decided. As CT scans are showing good results, it is important that the price of the same is capped so that patients don’t have to pay more.”

“There are diagnostic centres offering to do the HRCT chest scan for around Rs 3,000, which is the ideal rate. But different centres are charging different rates presently. It is important to cap the rates. Capping the price will help patients. 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,” added Dr Yadav.

Siddharth Kandukuri, who got an HRCT scan of the chest at a private diagnostic centre in Hyderabad in January, told TNM, “I paid Rs 5,300 for the HRCT scan. While Rs 5,000 was charged for the scan, Rs 300 was charged for the PPE kit. Government should have regulated the cost of HRCT, IL-6 and D Dimer tests which are few of the expensive diagnostic tests typically used for diagnosis and treatment of COVID-19 along with RT- PCR.” Interleaukin-6 Inhibitors or IL-6 is a key mediator of inflammation and viral cytokine storm in COVID-19 patients. D-dimer is often used to measure and assess clot formation. Amid the COVID-19 pandemic, elevated D-dimer levels have been associated with disease severity and mortality trends.

People have been demanding for Andhra Pradesh to cap prices for the scan as well. A Twitter user named Balaji said that Telangana needs to cap prices for the HRCT scan as Andhra Pradesh has done. Another user, Bhushan Kakollu tagged the Director of Health in Telangana and asked him to consider the same in Telangana.

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