Brother of deceased says he was asked to pay an additional fee for the ambulance


The brother of a 27-year-old man who died at a private hospital in South Mumbai was issued a bill of Rs 80,000 for eight hours of treatment that the patient received. The hospital administration has attributed the seemingly inflated amount to the costly treatment administered to the suspected Covid-19 patient.

Mohammed Wahid Ali Ansari, a garment seller on Fashion Street, had tested negative for coronavirus in a result he received on April 20. He started experiencing difficulty in breathing the next day.

“I tried to take him to some government hospitals nearby but they were all full,” his brother Shahid Ansari told Mirror. “We then went to Saifee Hospital, where my brother was admitted around 11am. I gave my entire savings of Rs 40,000 as admission fee. By 4pm, doctors said Wahid’s condition was deteriorating continuously and he breathed his last at 7pm.”

The deceased’s brother was told to contact the Bada Kabrastan to conduct the last rites. “I was also told that before the body was handed over to me, I would have to pay Rs 40,000 more, in addition to the ambulance charges,” Shahid Ansari said.

Shahid Ansari started calling friends and acquaintances to arrange for the money and went to the cemetery to prepare for the burial. When the staff at the cemetery overheard him asking friends to lend him the money for the burial, they asked him about his situation. Word about his plight reached Shoaib Khatib, chairperson of Jumma Masjid of Bombay Trust, who arranged for the money to be sent to the hospital.

The money was sent to the hospital by 3 am on April 23 and the deceased’s body was taken to the cemetery by 7 am on Thursday.

A social worker associated with the Bada Kabrastan accompanied the brother to the hospital. “We were told the hospital didn’t have an ambulance for Covid-19 patients and that we would have to arrange for one to take the body to the cemetery, which will cost more money,” the social worker told Mirror. “When we asked the on-duty officer for a clarification about the bill, he said he did not know the bifurcation and that I would have to contact his seniors for the information.”

When asked about the high bill, a hospital representative told Mirror that since the patient was suffering from breathing difficulty, he was considered as a suspected case of Covid-19 and treated accordingly. “There is a protocol in place for isolating such patients and treating them in a specific area,” the hospital representative said. “He was already in a bad shape when admitted. Still, we ran some tests and issued the protective equipment to the doctors treating him which increased the cost of treatment. A private hospital cannot be expected to bear the cost of treatment of a patient.”

Health activist and convener of Jan swasthya Abhiyan, Kamayani Bali Mahabal, said the bill could not be justified. “I am horrified to learn that a suspected Covid-19 patient has been charged Rs 80,000 for eight hours. The chunk of the bill allotted for medicines is Rs 17,000 plus. I cannot say much without seeing a break up of medicines, but this bill is still not justifiable,” Mahabal said. “Why was the patient kept in a first class room? The only arrangement needed is to keep a patient in hygenic and sanitised conditions, not a five start hotel room.”

The bill issued for the treatment of suspected Covid-19 patient Mohammed Wahid Ali Ansari

courtesy Mirro