Kolkata: A man, who was critically injured in a road accident in West Bengal, died on Thursday night due to "inadequate treatment" and "delayed release" by a private hospital, as it did not allow his shifting to a state-run hospital unless the family paid up the full amount, the kin alleged on Friday.
It came only a day after Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee on Wednesday pulled up city-based private hospitals for "unethical money-making".
Trinamool Congress (TMC) leader Madan Mitra intervened to ensure a refund of the paid bill and warned the hospital in question -- Apollo Gleneagles.
Thirty-year-old Sanjoy Roy, a resident of Dankuni in Hooghly district, was critically injured in a road accident on February 16. He was admitted to the Apollo Gleneagles Hospitals here where he was put on ventilator on the pretext of a CT scan, Roy's kin alleged.
He was later shifted to the state-run SSKM Hospital, where he breathed his last. His family has alleged that Apollo delayed Roy's release demanding full payment of the bill.
In a showdown with the hospital management over phone, which was aired live on television, a former Bengal minister warned Rana Dasgupta, Chief Operating Officer of the hospital, to be ready to face "worse circumstances" given Banerjee's scanner on private healthcare establishments.
Incidentally, Banerjee had pointed out on Wednesday that maximum complaints regarding excess billing were against Apollo.
"Will you refund the entire money? Ok... but this does not excuse the 'paap' (sin). The ball has started rolling and I can't assure you that you will be excused. I am not a member of the Cabinet and the final decision rests with the CM. But I think you are going to face worse circumstances," Mitra told Dasgupta.
Mitra dubbed the hospital management as "arrogant".
"They are arrogant. They always threaten they will shut down and around 50,000 jobs will be lost. They are blood suckers. Have you seen 'Dracula'," he later told onlookers.
Dasgupta justified Roy being put on ventilator.
"He had to be put on ventilator, as his condition was very serious, else he wouldn't have survived even that long. Without CT scan, how we would know what is wrong? This is a clinical fact," he said.
Roy's wife questioned why her husband was never removed from the ventilator.
"He was a bit aggressive because of erratic sodium level due to liver injury. He was tied up. They made me sign a bond for the CT scan. We were then told that my husband was put on ventilator to stabilise the heart. But then he was never removed from ventilator," Roy's wife said.
Apollo Gleneagles said the billed amount was over Rs 7 lakh and Roy's family said they were able to pay around Rs 4.33 lakh initially.
Since the bill had gone up, the family decided to shift Roy to the state-run Institute of Post Graduate Medical Education & Research (S.S.K.M. Hospital) hospital. They approached Trinamool Congress leader Abhishek Banerjee to expedite the process and were able to secure a bed.
However, the private hospital authorities refused to release the patient, as Roy's kin had failed to pay the total billed amount.
"We informed them about the shifting. We told them that, in the meantime, we are arranging the money. But they refused to let go of the patient, saying we had to pay the rest of the bill. They delayed release due to the money issue.
"We told them about the CM pulling up hospitals but they persisted with their demand. They clearly told us 'we receive four to five such cases daily and this is nothing to us'. We told the management also but they reiterated their demand for paying the total billed amount," a family member said.
It was only after depositing of cheque and fixed deposit certificate at the private hospital that they released Roy. He was moved to SSKM Hospital on Thursday evening where he subsequently succumbed.
Roy's childhood friend accused the hospital authorities of "inadequate treatment and providing insufficient information".
"They didn't inform us properly about what was wrong with him. They made his wife sign a bond to do a CT scan and left him for four hours. It was only when we pushed and questioned them as to why Ray's CT scan was still not carried out, they proceeded with it.
"They put him on ventilator, saying CT scan report is fine, it shows water in lungs. Every day we heard different things regarding his health condition. I lost my childhood friend due to inadequate treatment, medical negligence and absence of humanity," Roy's friend said.
Mitra, who reached SSKM Hospital on Friday noon, in a vitriolic attack over the phone against the Apollo Hospital management, likened it to a crematorium.
"It is better to shut down the hospital than developing it into a crematorium. Very unfortunate. Tell Rupali (Basu), the CEO of the hospital, we will be very happy to shut it down. Our Keoratala cremation ground is better than your hospital. Are you the rulers of Bengal," Mitra thundered.