Wednesday, May 19, 2021

Tahsildars and Covid Patients must file FIRs against cheating Hospitals

Know your medical rights

The Government should know that they have a duty to give all information to people to fight COVID virus and entire cabinet should be asked to help the people with crisis information and grievance redressal systems. The Private Hospitals should know that they can be prosecuted and jailed for misinformation, mistreatment and inhuman fleecing with high and unreasonable charges.

FIRs against Delhi hospitals

For them, a few significant examples: Delhi Police has registered an FIR against two private hospitals for allegedly providing incorrect information on beds available for Covid patients. Though they have dozens of beds available, the managers of Hospitals misinformed the patients that no beds were available. “The case was registered after they received a complaint from the tehsildar in Dwarka, under IPC sections 415, 417, 188 and 51(B)/52 DDMA Act,” the officer said. Delhi government filed the complaint. Telangana and AP governments also should complain against these inhuman hospitals. Approach Magistrate to secure orders for investigating the looting of the patients.  Patients and their relatives should know that they can file police complaints against such untruthful and cheating black sheep of the medical profession.

MP example

Social media can be the platform for change and smart phone could be the instrument. On June 6, a viral video showed that an 80-year-old man was tied to the hospital bed, at Shajapur’s City Hospital, after he and his family were unable to clear hospital bills for treatment of Covid-19. The Old man’s family alleged that the hospital administration tied his legs and hands to bed after he failed to pay Rs 11,000. “We had deposited a bill of Rs 5,000 at the time of admission but when the treatment took a few more days, we did not have the money to pay the bill,” said his daughter.

Based on this video, Senior Advocate Ashwini Kumar wrote a letter, which was taken note of and sent to MP High Court for suo moto notice. The Madhya Pradesh Government woke up and registered an FIR against that hospital, just to report to the High Court that ‘strong action’ is being taken. Chief Minister has promptly made a public statement that action will be initiated.

Meanwhile, the hospital became humanitarian and waived off the entire balance fee. It claimed that he was tied because he was having convulsions because of electrolyte imbalance.

MP HCs lessons

Then the High Court tried to educate the Government about the right to health of the people etc. There are umpteen number of judgments from our guardian of human rights – the Supreme Court for the High Court judgement to remind the State Governments about their Constitutional responsibilities.  We have anyway, a wonderful provision in Ambedkar’s constitution- Article 21 meaning of which was expanded to include the right to health and issued several directions.The Bench of Chief Justice Mohammad Rafiq and Justice Atul Sreedharan stated:

The right to health can be secured to the citizens only if the State provides adequate measures for their treatment, healthcare and takes their care by protecting them from calamities like Coronavirus….Article 38, Article 39(e), Article 41 and Article 47 in Part-IV of the Constitution of India as well as the fundamental right guaranteed vide Article 21 of the Constitution of India deal with potent and substantive contents of the right to life which in its broad sweep also includes right to good health.

Court reminded “The right of the citizen to adequate healthcare emanates from the dignity and sanctity of the human life which belongs to all of them. Health, besides being a fundamental right, is a basic human right, which no popular government can afford to negate. Health has its own prerequisites of social justice and equality and that it should be accessible to all….It includes the ability to obtain all kind of healthcare services including prevention, diagnosis, treatment and management of diseases, management of health disorders, diseases and illness as also the management of other health impacting conditions. Such health care should not only be accessible but also be conveniently affordable to all the citizens. The core obligation of the State in securing the right to life to all its citizens is non-negotiable.”

Appreciating the efforts of state, the court cautioned that the state’s efforts should also reflect on the ground and the benefit thereof should reach the common man and so, the Court opined that it needs to work hard towards that aim and goal.

The Court also noticed the newspapers of the State during last week have been replete with the reports of incidents where either the patients are allegedly not being admitted or are being allegedly exploited by exorbitant charges by the private hospitals. Consequently, playing the role of a catalyst by reminding the State of its duties, for reassuring the people to continue to have faith in the system so as to revive their confidence, the Court issued many directions to MP.

The Centre and States shall ensure continuous and the regular supply of Oxygen and Remdesivir not only to all the Government Hospitals, City Hospitals, District Hospitals but also to the Private Hospitals/Nursing Homes, which may give Indent of their requirement of Oxygen as well as Remdesivir in advance. They should reactivate all the hospitals as covid care centres. Strengthen/augment all the District Hospitals and City Hospitals, to cater to the medical needs of middle class/lower middle class and poor/below poverty line families. Rationalise the rates charged by the private Hospitals/Nursing Homes and private Pathological Labs/ Diagnostic Centres for treatment/tests.Display the data of the availability of normal beds, ICU beds, and Ventilators on their websites in all the Government Hospitals and Private Hospitals/ Nursing Homes on a real-time basis.Ensure all the private Hospitals/Nursing Homes, Chemists/Medical Shops to display the rates of Remdesivir per vial, separately for generic and branded injections, and all of them should be mandated not to charge more than the prescribed rates.

Prof. M. Sridhar Acharyulu
Prof. M. Sridhar Acharyulu
Author is former Central Information Commissioner and Professor of Law at Bennett University

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