Clinics Face Legal Action Over Control Measures – Anutin Threatens Hospitals That Overcharge

Anutin Charnvirakul Speaking

The Department of Health Service Support is threatening to take legal action against at least a dozen private clinics and laboratories offering COVID-19 testing services that failed to comply with coronavirus control measures.

Dr Thares Krassanairawiwong, director-general of the department, said on Monday that the department received complaints filed against the clinics and laboratories and found that 12 of them failed to perform their duties as required by the department in three areas.

The establishments failed to refer COVID-19 patients to hospitals, report detected COVID-19 cases and other details to the Disease Control Department or the Department of Medical Science, and seek permission before advertising prices of their COVID-19 testing services, he said.

“These COVID-19 testing facilities have already been warned so they can correct what they had done wrong or else they will face legal action, which includes a fine and criminal charges,” Dr Krassanairawiwong said.

He also urged consumers to continue to alert the department if there are new incidents, such as misconduct, via the department’s 1426 hotline.

Most importantly, medical clinics and laboratories are required to refer COVID-19 patients to hospitals when infections are detected, or at least report new cases to local public health authorities, Dr Krassanairawiwong said.

He said 14 clinics are authorised to offer COVID-19 testing services, and 11 have set up contracts with hospitals in order to refer patients, while the remaining three are in the process of signing a Memorandum of Understanding with hospitals.

Meanwhile, Minister of Public Health Anutin Charnvirakul has threatened to take legal action against any hospital refusing to admit COVID-19 patients or charging them excessively for treatment.

Mr Charnvirakul, who is also deputy prime minister, was responding to a complaint accusing a hospital of charging up to 300,000 baht for COVID-19 treatment.

Dr Apisamai Srirangson, assistant CCSA spokeswoman, said the management of medical resources during the current outbreak is “rather slow” because information on confirmed cases comes from various labs, which usually deal with cases individually.

She said that previously, during the outbreak in Samut Sakhon, tests were carried out simultaneously and a field hospital was set up to handle a large number of patients.

The government is speeding up and enhancing its ability to manage hospital beds and hotlines used to help allocate hospital beds to COVID-19 patients, she said.