Tribune News Service
Amritsar, February 20
Agents and touts of private diagnostic labs, private pharmacies and private hospitals are fleecing people by collecting test samples, prescription slips inside the Guru Nanak Dev Hospital premises. They are even asking them to shift their patients to private hospitals for better medical care.
In December last year, the hospital authorities had asked its security staff to be vigilant about such persons. The then medical superintendent had also warned that such persons would be handed over to the police and a complaint against them filed.
Agents of private labs can be seen roaming inside the hospital during the daytime. At night, when main labs are closed, the number of such agents increases. “Touts of private hospitals asking people to shift to a private hospital by spreading negative propaganda against the hospital too can be spotted,” said an insider.
However, the menace continues as a section of employees are said to be hand in glove with private centres. “If a certain test is not available at the hospital and an employee of a private hospital comes to collect the sample, it might be legally wrong but ethically it could be overlooked. However, if a test is available and some employees are trying to earn a commission, strict action should be taken,” said a doctor on condition of anonymity. He said a few unscrupulous elements were causing embarrassment to the whole hospital.
The doctor suggested that the hospital could set up collection centres at OPD and emergency with staff of biochemistry, pathology and others collecting samples and it would help keep private agents at bay.
A communist activist, Rattan Singh Randhawa said, “Only those who are very poor go to government hospital as they cannot afford costly treatment outside. But at the hospital they fall prey to the nexus of employees and private centres.” Farmers, led by Randhawa, had earlier staged a protest against the nexus.
When contacted, hospital spokesperson Dr Rakesh Sharma said, “Most of the patients coming to the hospital are from rural background and are not aware of the hospital’s system and procedures. Such gullible patients are often fooled by agents and touts.” He said the hospital authorities were serious about the issue and security staff had been asked to keep an eye on such miscreants.
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