Centre, Haryana order probe into Fortis hospital 'overbilling' case

The Haryana government today ordered a probe into allegations that Fortis Memorial Research Institute (FMRI) in Gurugram overcharged the family of a seven-year-old girl who died of dengue and refused to release the body till the bill of Rs16 lakh or more was paid.

Latest reports said the girl, Adya Singh, died while being shifted to another hospital. The Union government too has sought an urgent inquiry into the case.

Fortis Healthcare Ltd has denied the charge of overbilling, saying the patient's kin was informed about the bill on a daily basis.

State health minister Anil Vij said a senior officer would investigate the case. Directions have been issued to the officer to submit the probe report at the earliest so that strict action could be taken against the guilty, he said.

He said no hospital in the state would be allowed to play with the health and sentiments of the people.

The union health ministry earlier asked the Haryana government to take "exemplary" action against Fortis if "overcharging, negligence or malfeasance" were established in the case.

Adya Singh was in Fortis Medical Research Institute, a multi super-speciality hospital, for 15 days before she died.

The hospital billed her family almost Rs16 lakh (some reports say Rs18 lakh). The episode was highlighted recently on Twitter by a friend of the girl's father, who alleged the hospital charged an exorbitant sum for the treatment (See: Fortis Hospital slaps Rs16 lakh bill on dead kids' folks; minister vows action).

Terming the incident "very unfortunate", union health minister J P Nadda earlier today asked union health secretary Preeti Sudan to look into the case. She in turn wrote a letter to the principal secretary of Haryana's health department, asking for an action-taken report within two weeks, following which the state government initiated the probe.

Adya, a Class II student, developed very high fever on 27 August. Her family said they rushed her to Rockland Hospital in Dwarka two days later when the fever did not abate. Tests confirmed she was suffering from dengue. Her condition worsened and Rockland suggested Singh take her to a bigger hospital.

The family took her to Fortis in Gurugram on 31 August. She remained on life support for 10 days, and during this time, the hospital billed them heavily, the family alleged.

"On 14 September when an MRI was finally conducted and it revealed extensive damage to the brain, the doctors gave up. We decided to then take her to another hospital, but doctors refused to even facilitate an ambulance." Adya was declared brought dead at Rockland Hospital at 14-15 September midnight.

Asked by reporters if he was intimated regularly about the bill through text messages on his mobile phone, Adya's father Jayant Singh said, "Yes, I was getting the bill and one day when I asked for a break-up of it, they said, 900 gloves were used in 6-7 days. And, when I questioned that, the number of gloves was reduced."

Indian Medical Association President Dr K K Aggarwal said the Directorate General of Health Services (DGHS) should take over the case.

"Questions we need to ask are, whether it was a case of unnecessary treatment; has the hospital charged for something for which it should not have? If it is a fraud, let it be investigated. But, first let the probe be done," he said.