Patients Cry Foul over Hospital PPE Charges

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Two patients of a private hospital in Petaling Jaya have reportedly complained about being made to pay for Covid-19 personal protective equipment (PPE) worn by medical staff who treated them.

Health industry news site Code Blue reported that two former patients at Assunta Hospital in Petaling Jaya highlighted the PPE charges amounted to almost half of their medical bills.

According to the report, a 69-year-old Malaysian man – who received treatment for an inflamed lung on May 12 – was charged RM500 for PPE used by two nurses, amounting to 44 percent of his total bill of RM1,146.65.

The second case involved a 38-year-old expatriate, Briglia Andrea, who was charged RM313 or 49 percent of his RM642 bill for PPE used by his attending doctor and nurse at the hospital on June 7, when he received stitches for a lacerated finger.

The hospital’s PPE set comprises a blue apron, face shield, N95 mask, boot covers, and a pair of gloves, which Assunta Hospital management reportedly told Code Blue are charged to patients at a legal rate.

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In both cases, Code Blue reported that the PPE charges exceeded every other item on their bills.

“My dad was a patient of Assunta for almost 25 years. When I went to pay the medical bill, it came to about RM1,100. So, then I saw there was a charge for PPE of RM500. I asked the cashier, ‘What is this?’

“She said it is for the gown that the nurses wear. So, I said, ‘Why didn’t you tell me about this?’ If they had informed me, I would have brought him to a private clinic,” said a daughter of the Malaysian man, both who reportedly declined to be named.

An officer from Assunta Hospital’s patient relations department, however, reportedly told the Malaysian patient in an email on June 4 that verbal consent pertaining PPE charges were left secondary as the patient was attended immediately by the Emergency Department staff nurse and medical officer.

Separately, Andrea said he was informed of the PPE charge before being treated, but his injury did not allow an opportunity to consider other options.

“At that time, I didn’t have much time to argue, because I was bleeding […] So, I went in, and I received the treatment.

“They stitched my finger, and I paid the bill which amounted to a total of RM642,” he told CodeBlue.

Andrea, however, left without being treated after he refused to pay another RM300 during a follow-up appointment on June 9.

Last month, a private hospital was fined RM200,000 by the Domestic Trade and Consumer Affairs Ministry for charging a patient RM201.60 for 18 pieces of three-ply face masks used by nurses during treatment.

The price of RM11.20 per mask was nearly 10 times higher than the government’s ceiling price of RM1.50 per mask. – Malaysiakini