MUMBAI: The state government on Thursday slashed the price of high resolution CT (HRCT) scan for Covid-19 patients by more than half, fixing it between Rs 2,000 and Rs 3,000 depending on the machine’s features. The price of 200 ml plasma unit too has been cut by 25% and capped at Rs 5,500.
The decisions follow complaints from patients of being overcharged or blackmarketing in case of plasma. Dr Sudhakar Shinde, CEO of the State Health Assurance Society, who headed the committee set up to decide on the HRCT price capping, told TOI that “the cost of HRCT has been between Rs5,000 and Rs1,0000 in some five-star hospitals.”
Radiologists performing CT scans for Covid-19 patients will not only have to report on the lungs, but also mention details of other organs. “Doctors were following a short-cut method of only reporting on lungs, but if a patient is undergoing a scan full of radiation, he or she should be told about other organs as well,” said Dr Shinde. The cost of CT (HRCT) scan includes the price of PPE, disinfectants, etc.
HRCT emerged as a key diagnostic tool for Covid-19, while convalescent plasma is being used to treat mild to moderately ill patients.
While a 200 ml unit of plasma extracted using the plasmapherisis method has been capped at Rs5,500 per bag, the average cost in most hospitals in Mumbai is between Rs7,000 and Rs 7,500.
In the early phase of the Covid pandemic, high-resolution CT scan (HRCT) had emerged as a life-saving tool for city doctors. The ‘ground glass’ opacities in the CT scans of the lungs helped doctors decide on the severity of the disease in patients whose tests results were taking days to arrive.
“RT-PCR only has a sensitivity of 70% to diagnose Covid-19, while antigen tests have 50% sensitivity. However, HRCT has over 80% sensitivity,” said Dr Shashank Joshi, who is a member of the state task force on Covid-19. “It is a useful tool to understand the severity of the disease. The capping will make it more accessible for the common man,” he added.
Convalescent plasma is in demand for treatment of Covid-19 patents after the ministry allowed for off-label or emergency use of plasma.
The state government appointed an expert committee with the help of the State Blood Transfusion Council. The committee has fixed the rates keeping in view the cost of collecting plasma by plasma apheresis method and the service charges for additional tests/special tests on blood as per the National Blood Policy. If the plasma bag is provided with a NAT test, the charges for the test have been capped at Rs1,200 per test (excluding the cost of plasma bag) and Rs 500 for a chemiluminescence test done on the plasma unit.
“The almost 25% cut in the rate of 200ml of plasma is good for patients. The capping exercise will introduce checks and balances and control blackmarketing,’’ said Dr Om Shrivastava, infectious diseases specialist, who is a member of the state task force on Covid.
The first plasma trial findings by the ICMR over a month back showed that it didn’t affect mortality rates. However, many doctors have said plasma has a role to play in mild to moderately ill patients.
“With the capping of rates, plasma will be available to patients at a nominal rate. The government will take strict action like revoking licences of blood banks which do not implement the rate and are found to overcharge,” said state health minister Rajesh Tope.

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