Bengaluru: A family of four from Lahore, Pakistan, had a harrowing time at a city cancer specialty hospital recently. The hospital staff allegedly confiscated their passports when the family expressed their financial crunch over the bill that shot up to Rs. 35 lakhs from the estimated 25 lakhs.
Later, when the family shared their plight with their religious contacts here in the city, the staff handed back the family’s passports after getting them to pay up half of the balance bill amount.
Rehaab Maqsood, patient number 95008, admitted in the Bone Marrow Transplant Ward in Tower 2, a post-graduate student from Lahore University,had flown down to the city with his father, mother and sister in the last week of September this year for Rehaab’s cancer treatment.
He was prescribed a bone marrow transplant procedure and treatment here in the city at HCG Cancer Hospital, with his sister Ghaniya Maqsood being the donor. The family was told that the treatment package would cost about Rs. 25 lakhs and had raised that amount with the help of several fund raising associations back home in Pakistan.
Sixty-four days in the hospital later, the bone marrow transplant procedure successfully done, the bill was shown to them by the hospital. It was for Rs. 35 lakhs. The hospital staff allegedly justified the excess amount, saying it was charged for the injections and the chemotherapy.
“When we expressed our financial crisis to the hospital management, they took away my son’s and my wife’s passport four days ago and told us that only after the payment would they give it back,” said Maqsood, Rehaab’s father, to Deccan Chronicle. It was only after Maqsood paid half of the balance bill amount, that the hospital staff returned their two passports on Saturday afternoon after seizing it for four days.
Hospital version: Speaking to media, Dinesh Madhavan, director, marketing, said that the allegations were baseless and the patient had been in the hospital for 64 days now and he is to be an in-patient for another 62 days until January-end. According to him, as there was a financial problem, the father had gone to a mosque to seek help, and the hospital is also trying to help the family out. As for the passport: “Every Pakistan national’s passport goes to the Foreign Residents’ Registration Office (FRRO) once in every two weeks for approval,” Mr. Madhavan said, adamantly refusing to comment on whether the passports were confiscated by the hospital staff or not.
Meanwhile reactions from authorities regarding the hospitals behaviour have criticised them for their alleged high-handed behaviour.
“Every passport is a property of the issuing authority — the government. No hospital can take the law into their hands and hold back a foreign national’s passport. Only the airport customs, immigration authority, police, and the court have the power to order confiscation of passports,” says K.V.Dhananjay, senior advocate. “The hospitals have no business to confiscate their patients’ passports. If the patient is not paying, the hospital management can approach the police. If a foreign national’s passport is seized by a hospital, it’s a serious offence, and the foreigner can report it to the local police as a technical theft/robbery,” says Dr. S.T. Ramesh IPS (Retired) Former DG & IG P.