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Unexpectedly high hospital bills questioned
By Liu Dan (chinadaily.com.cn)
Updated: 2005-11-24 17:37

An old man who died after 67 days of treatment in a hospital racked up a medical bill of a whopping 5 million yuan ($US0.62 million).

Wen Wenhui, a 74-year-old retired teacher of a middle school in Harbin of Northeast China's Heilongjiang Province, was diagnosed with lymphoma a year ago and was sent to the second hospital affiliated to Harbin Medical University on June 1 this year.

As Wen's wife was also a retired teacher, the couple's combined salary was far too insufficient for the expensive medical fees. So their son, who runs a business, paid the treatment fees.

Wen's wife said that she had to balance taking care of her husband in the ward with paying fees and buying medicine.

Unfortunately, to the family's disappointment, despite the pricey treatment, Wen still died on August 6, with the expensive daily charge having at that time reaching more than 20,000 yuan.

When the time came for the widow and son to settle accounts with the hospital, several items on the charge list made them suspicious.

For one thing, the hospital used a medicine that was tested as allergic on Wen.

For another, although Wen died on the early morning of August 6, but was still a chest test expenditure for that day on the list.

On July 30, Wen had 94 blood transfusions amounting to 9,400 milliliters, compared to 4,500 milliliters for a normal person.

The hospital cannot provide the records of the medication use that was supposedly worth more than 4 million yuan.

After the reform of the medical system, some public hospitals have gradually become more market-orientated. They have begun to depend on the public's medical fee, which make up nearly half of their finances.

That is the reason why some medical institutions jack up the price and charge a high price for those wealthy patients, apparently not caring about them tarnishing the image of the medical staff and the health industry.

Now the Ministry of Health has dispatched an investigating team to the local hospital to clarify things.

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