Hospitals: Healthcare Or Wealthcare?

Hospital Bills & Experiences
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Vithal Karmarkar, a factory worker, was rushed to a well-known hospital In Pune after he fainted at home with fever. He was diagnosed with malaria and was admitted immediately to the Intensive Care Unit of a famous local hospital in Pune.

After signing many forms, he was advised to pay 20,000 rupees as a surety amount for his estimated stay. He stayed five days in a semi-private room before he was discharged. He was then presented with a bill of 68,000 rupees!

A stunned Karmarkar had no option but to cough up the cash. Luckily he had a few lakhs in his bank which was meant for his daughter’s wedding next year. Repeated scanning of the bill left no room for complaint. The hospital had covered up the high charges well.

This is one example of the soaring cost of healthcare has become a major issue for most of the middle-class and economically challenged citizens of Pune. There is also a lackadaisical attitude towards pre-and post-treatment and care.

There is absolutely no room for argument over the bill. You pay up, or pay the price for it. 

However, there are many dedicated doctors and hospital staff who do full justice to your treatment. But finding them is not easy.

“Hospitals just don’t care and I find the treatment not up to the mark,” says Mahesh Salgaonkar, a middle-level executive with a city firm.

“There is a very cavalier attitude by the staff many times. I was admitted for an appendicitis operation at a big hospital in Pune,” he said. “Unfortunate I developed an infection at the surgery area and suffered for a fortnight. The puss oozing out from the wound caused grave inconvenience.

“The doctor felt that some nurse had not used sterilised gloves leading to the problem.“I must also say that for a famous hospital like that, there was hardly any monitoring of a simple thing like changing saline bottles when it was over late at night.

“And I was more frustrated when I saw the huge bill. I had no option but to pay,” he added.

Manjit Singh, a businessman, had a pleasant surprise when he went to a smaller hospital for a surgery.

“The staff was very courteous, they looked after me well and I even tipped them,” he said.

“They kept a watch on me all the time, particularly at night.

“The only problem was that they charged me 5,000 rupees extra,” he added. “But the thing that confused me most was that the resident doctor charged three times more than the surgeon who did the operation per visit,” he added.

Autorickshaw driver Suresh Gaikwad had a very sad experience last year.

His father had fainted and he took him to a nearby hospital. After three days there he told to move his father to a bigger hospital for further treatment as that hospital did not have adequate facilities.

“After a thorough investigation, I was informed that my father was suffering from kidney infection. They told me the infected had permeated through the system and he had no hope of survival,” he said.

“My question is that if my father was so sick why the earlier hospital didn’t advise me there and then. They wasted three precious days and who knows my father would have survived,” he said.

Clive O’Hara, an Indian expat living in Dubai, still regrets bringing his wife to Pune for a heart surgery at a famous hospital.

“They assured me that a bypass has a 99% record of survival and was very safe,” he said.

“We agreed and my wife was admitted to the operation theatre. After an hour I met the owner of the hospital, a doctor himself, who now told us that there was only 50:50 chance of survival,” he added.

“In the evening I was told that she is not in a good condition and she was kept in a special room and there were good chances of survival.  “I was allowed to enter to room once and see her from far. Her chest was heaving but I could not make out that a ventilator was making it do that.

“I spent three days in the hospital without sleep and on the fourth morning was informed that she had died.

“I was confused and the only thing I remember was that they charged me eight lakh rupees extra for the three-day stay in the special room,” he said.

“Later a doctor, who was attached to hospital, informed me that my sister had passed away on the operating table itself. The doctor who conducted the operation had told the owner before the surgery that the patient may not survive the surgery.

“But the owner insisted that the operation should go on. If such a greedy man is in charge of a hospital, what will happen to patients?”