The Hoai Duc General Hospital in Hanoi. Photo by Hai Nguyen
A public hospital in Hanoi said it has suspended the head and chief technician of its examination department as police and health authorities probed allegations about its copying and using the same blood test results for several patients.
The motivation for this practice has not been ascertained, but senior officials with the Health Ministry have said it was an act of fraud, not a technical mistake.
The suspended personnel are falculty head Vuong Thi Kim Thanh and techician Phan Thi Oanh of the Hoai Duc General Hospital.
Hanoi Health Department had earlier received a complaint from Hoang Thi Nguyet, a diagnostician with the hospital, saying multiple copies of more than 1,000 results were made between July last year and May this year, and each given to between two and five patients of different age groups with different medical problems.
"A patient with thrombocytopenia (reduced number of platelets in the blood) once received the same test results as one diagnosed with appendix inflammation," she said.
The Hanoi health department started investigating the practice on May 21 and was joined by local police soon after.
Nguyet said the copies were only made for outpatients.
She told news website VnExpress the scam was made possible because of the problem of overcrowding at the hospital. The ten-member examination department had to receive between 200 and 300 outpatients a day and perform 1,000-2,000 blood tests.
Then it became a "systematic fraud," she said.
"It became an unwritten rule that we have to perform blood tests for any patient coming in."
Most of the patients brought their insurance cards, so the scam basically cheated insurers, and aimed to please patients who did not have to wait much for their blood tests to be done, said Nguyet.
Eight of ten experts from the hospital's examination department have admitted to making copies of blood test results, police said.
Nguyen Trong Khoa, deputy director of the ministry's Examination and Treatment Management Department, said the practice was "unacceptable."
"It will cause very large impacts if the copies have been used as they would falsely change patients' conditions and could lead to incorrect, ineffective treatment."
He said the hospital director will have to take the blame, and the head of the examination department be held directly responsible, as all the copies have her signature.
The officials will be suitably punished depending on the severity of the consequences caused, he said.
First investigations also confirmed Nguyet's other accusations about the hospital appointing unqualified people to various positions and using machines from private companies without reporting it to concerned health authorities.
Hanoi Health Department is expected to have a final report on the problem completed by August 15.
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