Ex-director of Hanoi public hospital jailed over gouging of medical equipment price

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Ex-director of Hanoi public hospital jailed over gouging of medical equipment price

Nguyen Quoc Anh, former director of Bach Mai Hospital, stands trial at the Hanoi People’s Court, January 24, 2022. Photo: Danh Trong / Tuoi Tre

The former director of a major public hospital in Hanoi has been sentenced to five years in prison for hiking the price of medical equipment that caused financial damage worth VND10 billion (US$440,500) to over 600 patients.

During a trial on Monday, the Hanoi People’s Court handed a five-year jail term to Nguyen Quoc Anh, 63, ex-director of Bach Mai Hospital, for abuse of positions and powers while performing official duties.

For a similar offense, Nguyen Ngoc Hien, former deputy director of Bach Mai Hospital, was sentenced to three years and six months in prison, and Pham Duc Tuan, former chairman of BMS Medical Technology Company, was jailed for 36 months.

However, Tuan was given a suspended sentence.

The remaining five defendants who are former staff of Bach Mai Hospital, BMS Company, and Hanoi Valuation and Financial Services Company (VFS) were also handed jail terms or suspended sentences.

The indictment showed that Bach Mai is a public hospital under the management of the Ministry of Health.

In May 2016, Tuan met Anh to offer the sale of a robotic surgical system named the Rosa Robot.

Defendants stand at their trial at the Hanoi People’s Court, January 24, 2022. Photo: Danh Trong / Tuoi Tre

Defendants stand at their trial at the Hanoi People’s Court, January 24, 2022. Photo: Danh Trong / Tuoi Tre

As the original procedures were complicated, the two sides agreed to enter into a joint venture to install the robotic system at Bach Mai Hospital and let Tuan decide the price for the equipment.

Anh went on to sign a contract with BMS Company without reporting to the health ministry in accordance with regulations.

To legitimize the process, Tuan asked Tran Le Hoang, an employee of VFS, to issue a certificate of appraisal for the Rosa Robot.

Investigators found that the price of the robotic system was inflated to VND39 billion ($1.7 million), while its market price was only VND7.4 billion ($326,000).

Doctors at Bach Mai Hospital have used the robotic system to perform cranial nerve surgeries on 637 patients.

This resulted in financial damage worth more than VND10 billion to the patients as they had to pay much more than they should have for their surgeries.

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