Ten major private hospitals in Mumbai failed to provide a valid explanation for overpricing blood and its components when the State Blood Transfusion Council (SBTC) has fixed standard rates. Most of the hospitals are set to lose their no objection certificates and license for a short period.
A survey conducted by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), in last November, found that 19 out of 59 blood banks in Mumbai were overcharging patients. The amount of Rs. 50 to Rs. 500 was charged for blood and components such as plasma, platelets, packed red cells.
All the blood banks, which were found violating the National Blood Transfusion Council (NBTC) pricing, were called for a personal hearing in last December and this January. In February, FDA cleared P D Hinduja Hospital (Mahim), Lilavati (Bandra) and B D Petit Parsee General Hospital (Cumballa Hill).
Blood banks of SL Raheja, Fortis, Jaslok, Asian Heart Institute, Kokilaben Ambani, Prince Aly Khan, SevenHills, Cumballa Hill and S R Mehta Cardiac Institute did not provide satisfactory explanation about their pricing formula to FDA. The FDA asked the SBTC to initiate action against the banks on February 27.
But the SBTC has been delaying to take action against the blood banks. The FDA being a licensing authority cannot take action till the SBTC cancels or suspends the banks no objection certificates.
Sanjay Patil, FDA joint commissioner, said, "Most hospitals claimed to be unaware of the SBTC prices, and cited lack of communication about the new rates. The rates, however, had been there for six months when we carried out the survey. All have corrected it now."
"No-objection certificates of blood banks which have not been complying with the SBTC rates will be withdrawn for a short period as public service is equally important. We are finding out under which rule it can be done. The motive is not to punish," said, Dr Satish Pawar, Head of the Directorate of Health Services (DHS).
The NBTC came out with price regulation in June, which was later approved by SBTC. Hospital authorities of Jaslok and Breach Candy hospital said they had revised the price soon after SBTC's circular came to their notice.