Guyana: Private hospitals rake in millions for unnecessary tests

For a number of years now, there have been rising numbers of complaints of the operations of doctors, private clinics and hospitals.

A number of private hospitals are running rackets where patients are being sent for unnecessary tests, several sources have confirmed.

From accusations of wrong injections to malpractice, there has been little evidence that harsh sanctions have been meted out to punish doctors who would have gone rogue.     

In recent weeks, there has been a number of shocking complaints, accusing doctors of being in cahoots with specialists and private hospitals to force patients to pay for tests that are totally unnecessary.

Several hospitals’ staffers and also patients who suffered, reached out to Kaieteur News recently complaining of experiences.

“At one hospital, you go in for a routine cold, and they sending you to do HIV test and a whole bunch of other stuff,” one patient complained yesterday.

It does not matter whether it is a simple visit for a cough. The hospitals are ordering you do a full barrage of tests…from full blood work to take even mandatory saline drips at the emergency.

One parent whose two children were suddenly ordered to take x-rays for scoliosis (curved spine) by the family’s pediatrician, is now seeking legal recourse. Another doctor expressed shock at the need for the x-rays.

“It is a public secret what is happening. I am, personally sick at what other doctors are doing,” a doctor who operates a private clinic said.
For a number of private hospitals, it is an unspoken policy that sending patients for tests that are unnecessary would be one of major ways how doctors are making money.

“I know one man who was troubled with gallstones, and they asked him to do some throat tests. He went to another hospital and they treat him for his gallstones without any further tests.”

There are even accusations of doctors who work out of town, and are in league with the private hospitals.

“So here is how it happens. You go into the doctor’s private clinic and he would examine you and suddenly, there is a cause for concern. It is all part of the scam. Of course, there are genuine cases. People don’t go to the doctor for fun. But an experienced doctor knows. That doctor would suddenly find a reason to refer you to a private city hospital and tell you to go to doctor so and so…everybody gets a cut,” one worker at a city hospital explained, on condition of remaining anonymous. It appears that everybody in the clinic, who are working there, knows of the racket.”

“So what you have is the doctor’s consultation fees, and those normal checks, to put in layman’s term. Then you have those tests. It is a lot of money. If you charge each patient $20,000 and you have 20 patients a day…that is not jokey money.”

In fact, it is estimated that the lab work and other tests are major revenue earners for the private hospitals.

“It is hard to nail doctors who are running these kinds of rackets. A doctor will tell you he or she see something…that he or she use the discretion to send the patient for more tests. It is hard to disprove unless the case is a blatant one where it is seen that the doctor is clearly one.”
Several different sources indicated the level of abuse of patients is on several levels.

“We can talk about the C-sections…and how much money being made by one doctor who decide he is God. Or we can talk about patients being made to do surgeries that ain’t supposed to do. The bottomline is that these are poor people who scrape enough money to go see a doctor. They are sometimes being told that they have to find more. Sometimes, it is hundreds of thousands of dollars,” a former senior official of a private hospital explained.
(To be continued…)

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  • Ian Wishart  On 01/28/2020 at 7:13 am

    If you have a “routine cold” or cough, why go to the doctor?

  • micchhee  On 01/30/2020 at 7:57 am

    My elderly mother suffered the same scam on many occasions at Woodlands hospital and I can name and shame the doctor who is the culprit as I confronted him before. But more importantly what is the government going to do about it?

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