The Health Ministry on Monday decided to look into allegations that Fortis Memorial Research Institute in Gurugram swindled the family of a seven-year-old dengue patient. The hospital allegedly charged the girl’s parents more than Rs 15 lakh for 15 days of treatment. The child was declared dead when she was moved to another hospital in Dwarka.

Following a series of tweets from a family friend, Union Health Minister JP Nadda sought details about the matter and said that the government would investigate and take necessary action.

On August 31, Adya Singh was admitted to Fortis Memorial with dengue, and it soon progressed to “dengue shock syndrome”. Adya, the daughter of a Dwarka-based IT professional Jayant Singh, spent nearly 15 days at the Gurugram hospital on ventilator support. They were “charged Rs 18 lakh, including for 2,700 gloves”, the family’s friend posted on Twitter.

The hospital reportedly also charged for more than 600 syringes that were used on her. “They pumped a seven-year-old with an average of 40 syringes a day,” the friend said.

Jayant Singh described the stay at Fortis as “hellish from the beginning”, according to News18. She had been shifted from Rockland Hospital in Dwarka to Fortis based on doctors’ advise after she was diagnosed with Dengue Type IV.

The father said that immediately after they reached the hospital, the girl was heavily sedated. He said that the doctors initially gave Adya an intravenous anti-bacterial drug called Meropenem, which costs around Rs 500 per vial. However, later they opted for a more expensive version of the same drug, which cost Rs 3,100, he said.

He also alleged that there were no doctors to take care of the girl during the weekends, and that the hospital began demanding the bill amount at the end of every day once the parents ran out of insurance. But they were not provided with a daily break-up of the expenses, he said.

On September 14, the doctors told the parents that the girl had 70% to 80% brain damage and would not recover completely. But they still pushed them to opt for a plasma treatment that costs more than Rs 15 lakh, the father said. The family then decided to take the child to another hospital, which eventually declared her dead. He said that he suspected his daughter had already died in Fortis and they were keeping them there only to make more money.

Fortis statement

Fortis denied any wrongdoing and said that the family was informed of Adya’s critical condition and was counselled every day. “On September 14, the family decided to take her away from the hospital against medical advice (LAMA - Leave Against Medical Advice), and she succumbed the same day,” the hospital said.

She had Dengue Shock Syndrome, and had to be put on life support and required intensive monitoring, the hospital said. “Treatment during these 15 days included mechanical ventilation, high frequency ventilation, continuous renal replacement therapy, intravenous antibiotics, inotropes, sedation and analgesia,” the hospital said.

It added: “Care of ventilated patients in ICU requires a high number of consumables as per globally accepted infection control protocols.” All the consumables were transparently reflected in the records and charged as per actuals, it said.