Mon, May 01, 2006 - Page 4 News List

Seven hospital officials sacked over `sky-high' bill

AGENCIES , BEIJING

China has sacked seven hospital officials and disciplined two others following an overcharging case that galvanized a nationwide outcry against "sky-high" healthcare bills, state media reported yesterday.

The president and six staff of the Harbin Medical University No.2 Hospital were dismissed after the Health Ministry and the State Council found the hospital had "arbitrarily collected fees contrary to regulations" and then altered records to hide the abuses, the Beijing News reported.

Soaring medical charges have become a widespread complaint in China, and the government has promised to cap medical charges.

But the bills the Harbin hospital charged to Weng Wenhui were so extravagant that they attracted nationwide media attention and provoked action by Beijing.

The daily said an official investigation into Weng's case had found that the hospital charged his family 1.39 million yuan (US$173,000) for 82 days treatment after the 75-year-old was admitted last May with a lymphatic tumor and then suffered complications.

Weng died on Aug. 6, and his family complained that they and his insurer were left with a bill of 5.5 million yuan, including 4 million yuan for imported medicine that doctors urged the family to buy. The hospital charged for 1,180 diagnoses and blood transfusions, his son Weng Qiang said at the time.

An investigation found that Weng was charged many times for the same tests, as well as for tests and drugs he never received. Hospital staff later altered records to make the charges appear legitimate.

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