Did Hospital Falsify Birth Weights to Maximize Revenue?

The National Insurance Institute, which is conducting a probe into the issue pays for births, the cost of which can exceed NIS 170,000 in the case of very premature babies; Rabin Medical Center denies malfeasance.

The Rabin Medical Center at Beilinson Hospital in Petah Tikva is being investigated on suspicion of falsifying the birth weight of premature babies - apparently as a means of increasing its income.

The payment for delivering a premature baby who weights less than 1.750 kilograms is NIS 170,000, 15 times more than for a regular birth (NIS 11,200). The huge price difference stems from the treatment required for preemies, which in complicated cases can reach hundreds of thousands of shekels and even more.

The National Insurance Institute, which is conducting the probe, pays for births. The annual sum paid by the NII exceeds NIS 1.5 billion.

Hospital officials confirmed that the center has been investigated for the past month but said it had not yet received the results of the probe.

The officials denied all allegations of fraud and said the hospital had no reason to falsify infants' weight. The preemies are weighed in the hospital's delivery rooms, which also report the weight to the Health Ministry. Payment for births is transferred to the Schneider Children's Medical Center, where the premature babies ward is located.

"Beilinson Hospital weighs the newborns, including the preemies, and reports their weight to the NII, while the money goes to Schneider," said CEO Dr. Eran Halpern. "So there's no incentive to falsify and I wouldn't even think of doing such a thing."

In rare cases, babies are weighed in the Schneider Children's Medical Center. These are babies who are born in such a serious condition that they are rushed to the children's hospital before being weighed, or when the birth is so complicated that it is carried out in Schneider. "So in our case there's even less risk of fraud," Halpern said.

The Rabin Medical Center's management said, "Beilinson and Schneider hospitals are the only ones where there is a complete separation between those who report the birth weight and those who are paid for treating the preemie. So we strongly reject any allusion to the facts regarding preemies' weight."

The NII declined to comment on investigation.