Inquiry panel recommended action against labs, hospital for exploiting patients
The Puducherry Health Department has asked the district administration to initiate action against three private laboratories for conducting COVID-19 tests without permission.
The labs are Selvan Lab, Red Clinic Lab and ECG, Reddiayarpalayam and M. S Diagnostic Lab, Lawspet.
The department had also sought proceedings against East Coast Hospitals, Moolakulam, for charging fees in excess of the fixed rate for antigen and RT-PCR test.
Following complaints of unauthorised labs collecting throat swabs for COVID-19 tests and charging higher fee than rates fixed by the government, the department had appointed a committee, comprising R. Murali, L. Ravivarman and M. Neelathachi for conducting an inquiry.
According to an official, an inquiry conducted by the committee in the labs on Monday found that Selvan, Red Clinical and MS Diagnostic were collecting samples from people on their premises for COVID-19 tests. They also collected samples from patients at their residences and sent it for testing in labs at Chennai and Kancheepuram.
The committee in its report said the test results were not shared with the Integrated Disease Surveillance Programme wing of the Department but instead directly sent to the patients.
“Bill/invoice was not maintained by the labs. However, written registers of the labs showed that they collected ₹2,000 to ₹2,500 for each RT-PCR test,” the committee said in its report.
As far East Coast Hospital was concerned, the committee said the department had fixed ₹500 for RT-PCR, but the hospital collected ₹4,000 for the tests. The bill receipts collected from the hospital showed that they charged ₹1,500 for antigen though the department had asked them not to collect more than ₹500.
The committee had recommended stern action, including cancellation of licence, against the labs for exploiting the patients, the official told The Hindu.
According to another official, there were reports of a few more labs conducting unauthorised tests and collecting exorbitant fees.
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