The Secunderabad hospital has denied the allegations, and a liver transplant consultant the family has pointed fingers at has refuted their claims.

Woman accuses 2 hospitals of medical kidnapping overcharging for liver transplant
news Controversy Sunday, June 17, 2018 - 15:20

An Indian woman's post on social media narrating her ordeal with two private hospitals, has gone viral and triggered a debate on the high rates charged by hospitals for medical care and treatment.

Taking to Facebook, Parul Bhasin Verma, an Indian-origin woman residing in Atlanta, said, "I want to share the story of my family that has experienced 'medical kidnapping', where my mother was admitted in the ICU for more than 100 days, during which two private hospitals, namely Yashoda Hospital in Secunderabad and BL Kapoor in New Delhi, asked us to pay an average of around Rs 1 lakh per day with total bill running to more than Rs 1.2 crore. My mother contracted multiple infections and ultimately succumbed to them."

"I have no other option now but to go public with this information so that appropriate action can be taken against these hospitals, established to help the ailing members of our society," she added, before detailing a four-month ordeal on her timeline.

She also posted photos of several bills from this period, which showed the various charges made by the hospital.

The post has since gone viral and has been shared more than 50,000 times on Facebook. Parul has also had a few people writing in to her, offering donations.

Speaking to TNM, Parul says, "Firstly, my intention is not money. It is not possible for a family member to come back either. My only hope is that this brings change in society and no other family should go through the four months of hell that we went through."

"Only we know how they harassed us. Even now, when we think of it, we get emotional," she added.

Timeline

Parul said that her mother was admitted to the hospital in Delhi on January 2, "after an ammonia attack and diagnosed with Liver Cirrhosis (end stage of Liver disease with non-functioning liver)."

Pointing out that she needed a liver transplant, the doctors discharged her on January 9.

Following this, Parul said her family approached a Liver Transplant Consultant named Dr Jyotsna Verma in New Delhi, who promised to make a liver available on short notice.

"When doctors at BL Kapoor suggested a liver transplant, my sister saw the website of Jyotsna Verma. When we visited her office, she said her appointment fees was Rs 11,000. Since it was too much, we filled a form, but we didn't meet her," Parul claimed.

On January 16, Jyotsna's office informed them about a liver from a deceased patient being available at Yashoda hospital, Secunderabad, and allegedly charged more than Rs 1 lakh, for the information shared.

"Within a week, we received a call from her office that they found a liver and charged a little over Rs 1 lakh. Many families we met in Yashoda hospital also seemed to have come through her. I don't know if she has an arrangement with doctors as we received a liver in one week, while people in India usually die waiting," Parul said.

"We went to Yashoda hospital only because we were panicked as my mother's condition was deteriorating. They told us that the cost of the liver transplant would be Rs 23 lakh, but when we went there, they said it was Rs 27 lakh. Different people who were at the hospital for the same procedure were charged different rates," Parul alleged.

"We didn't even know the limit of what they could charge. They were already charging Rs 1 lakh a day. The government must step in and ensure regulation. There was a time when we had no money to pay these hospitals. I only shared a few bills out of many. We were paying for lodging and food and medical expenses and we were soon broke," she added.

"After paying around Rs 60 lakh to the hospital, my father said that all his savings were gone and he had acquired substantial debt. To our surprise, the next day my mother was conscious and started to recover," Parul had said on her Facebook post.

"This made us very suspicious as it was the very next day that she began recovering. By mid-March, the hospital said that there was no need to keep my mother admitted as she only required nursing care. Not able to find a good nurse in Hyderabad, we took her back to Delhi," Parul added.

Parul said that they got into an arrangement with BL Kapoor hospital, that allowed them to buy cheaper medicine from outside.

In the first week of April, she alleged that the doctors asked the family to discharge her and take her home directly from the ICU itself.  

"They forced us to take the patient back directly from the ICU and not even from the ward. We protested, but they insisted. We took her home and then brought her back again within a day as she was not well. This time, they said that we had to buy medicines from their pharmacy. We didn't want to go anywhere else and redo all the tests, so we accepted this," Parul said.

Parul alleges that her mother had developed jaundice on April 20, and doctors from Yashoda Hospital had recommended the doctors in Delhi to immediately install a stent in her liver to prevent the spread of jaundice in her body. However, the installation was allegedly delayed to April 23, by which time, the infection spread across her body, and caused multiple organ failure.

Parul's mother finally succumbed on May 7.

"A week before her demise, my mother was on the ventilator and practically dead, but the doctors continued to ask us to pay before they conducted procedures like kidney dialysis on her. My father did not have the courage to ask them to stop and essentially kill his wife, but we have all the bills and receipts to back this," Parul alleges.

‘Regularise rates’

Parul told TNM that she wanted the government to intervene and regularise the rates at these private hospitals.

"I want the government to take action and realise the worth of a human life and regulate the rates at these hospitals. As an individual I may not do much but as a community, the government can be forced to act,” Parul told TNM.

Allegations denied

Speaking to Indulekha Arakkal from DC, a senior official at Yashoda said, “We have not overcharged the patient by even a rupee. She came here for a liver transplant and there were several health complications that her daughter was aware about. Due to multiple complications, the treatment cost went up. We followed all protocols and ensured that the patient was safe when she was here and we also were in touch with her doctors in Delhi when she fell ill.”

In a statement to TNM, BL Kapoor Hospital said:

“Sarita Bhasin had undergone Cadaveric Liver Transplant in Hyderabad in February 2018 and was brought to BLK Super Speciality Hospital by the family on March 27, 2018 in a critical condition due to Sepsis, Pneumonia and Biliary complications. The patient was discharged on April 5 as the condition was stable. Patient’s family was advised good nursing care at home.  However, she was readmitted on April 7 complaining of distress.

It is very unfortunate that despite our relentless efforts to stabilize the patient she succumbed to the complications arising from sepsis and other medical complications. Our deep condolences to the family of the bereaved. The family was regularly counselled on the clinical condition of the patient and also the financial implications of the same. The hospital provided all support medically and did not even insist upon full payment of dues at the time of grief.

It is also very unfortunate that the family is now levelling false allegations against BLK Super Speciality Hospital, that they were forced to pay for the medical procedures and medicines before any such procedures were done. We followed all the protocols and ensured well-being and safety of the patient.

We stand by the family in their hour of grief. However, the facts and the premises on which it is drawn is factually incorrect. The allegations are made with malafide intention. The family is once again requested to let us know their convenience for discussions and if any more clarifications are still sought from the doctors and the Hospital."

TNM also reached out to Liver Transplant Consultant Dr Jyotsna Verma, who denied all allegations against her.  

"I don't work for any corporate sector hospital. I run a patient education program. I understand the grievance of the family after this irreparable loss. No one in India is so foolish that they will pay Rs 1,04,000 for just sharing information. We have a full audio-video recording of counselling provided to the family. I did my job properly and successfully. A senior police officer was also present," Dr Jyotsna said.

"I clearly told them that this surgery is not for poor or middle-class families. If anything goes wrong, costs may go up to any extent. Unfortunately in India, this is only for the rich and super-rich patients. I never persuade patients for liver transplant. My first priority is to manage without a transplant. We have hundreds of patients who were told to undergo urgent transplant but are now living a very good life without transplant," she added.

She also explained that liver transplant was a highly complex and a high-risk surgery.

"Even if the surgery goes well, many times patients succumb to the side-effects of the post-transplant medications. These things are clearly explained to the families when they approach me. I always explain this in detail and help them to make an informed choice," she claimed.

When asked about the alleged high cost for an appointment, Jyotsna said, "My first consultation charges are Rs 5000, which are very nominal in terms of my immense experience in this field. I devote about two hours with full integrity and never misguide any patient for my benefit."

Pointing out that the patient's blood group was AB+, which has the shortest waiting list in the country, Jyotsna said, "South India has picked up well in organ donation awareness and donation rate is high. Waiting list is different for different blood groups. Liver Transplant is something which many families cannot afford in a country like India. We list patients in different hospitals in different states across India (Government Registration fee included in these charges) which further increase chances of getting an organ."

She also said that all charges were taken by cheque and no cash transactions were made.

 

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