LHC orders labs to charge Rs 90 for CBC tests

LAHORE: Justice Muhammad Khalid Mehmood Khan of the Lahore High Court on Thursday ordered all laboratories in Punjab to charge only Rs 90 for complete blood count (CBC) test till November 15 as per government policy in wake of the dengue outbreak and set up separate counters for dengue patients.

The judge observed that if the order was not complied with, then strict action would be taken against the owners and management of the laboratories. The judge also directed the provincial government to approach the court in case it wanted to extend its campaign after November 15.

The judge issued these directions while disposing of a petition moved by Dr Zeenat Hussain against the sealing of her laboratory for allegedly charging extra money for CBC tests. The judge also ordered the quashing of an FIR registered against the employees of the petitioner.

During the proceedings on Thursday, Punjab Aditional Advocate General Sirajul Islam submitted that the Punjab government was trying to control the dengue outbreak and was taking measures to save the people. He said that the government required cooperation not only from the people, but also from laboratory owners. He said that only Rs 70 was incurred on the CBC test, while the government had allowed the charging of Rs 90 per patient. He also said that concerned officials were taking action against labs for overcharging for CBC tests.

He said that only reception centres of laboratories were being sealed and requested that the petition be rejected. The petitioner’s counsel alleged that government action was discriminatory as it had not taken any action against Ittefaq Hospital, which was charging Rs 360 for a CBC test. He requested that government action against the petitioner be declared as illegal.

The judge remarked that the government should refrain from taking illegal steps and aggravating the situation to the extent that the court had to pass an order to unseal all laboratories. The judge also directed labs owners to cooperate with the government so as to prevent patient suffering.

Health Secretary Jehanziab Khan said that the CBC test was a primary test in dengue treatment and that it cost about Rs 70, whereas the government had ordered private laboratories to charge up to Rs 90 for the same till November 15. The judge postponed the hearing for a short time and directed the petitioner to have a meeting with health secretary and settle the issue amicably.

When proceedings resumed after an interval, Sirajul Islam said that the district quality control board in its meeting on Thursday decided to unseal the laboratory after assurances from the petitioner that her lab would charge only Rs 90 for CBC test.

Ittefaq Hospital Chief Executive Officer Hafeezud Din Siddique also appeared and submitted that the hospital was charging Rs 90 from general patients for the CBC test while it was providing test service to dengue patients for free. Dr Mubashar Hassan, a representative of the petitioner, assured on behalf of the petitioner that Rs 90 would be charged for the CBC test and that a separate counter for dengue patients would be set up. After these proceedings, the judge disposed of the petition. – Dailytimes