Health Ministry's Draft Charter Refrains Hospitals To Detain Patients Over Unpaid Bills

No hospital will be able to wrongfully confine any patient, or dead body of a patient, under any given situation.

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The Union Health Ministry is all set to enforce a charter of patients’ rights where the hospitals will be booked for an offence if found not discharging a patient or deny the relatives to take with them the dead body in case of arrear of payments.

Hospitals will now be refrained from detaining a patient or delaying his/her discharge on the ground of unsettled bills and hospital charges, according to the draft of Patient Charter.

No hospital will be able to wrongfully confine any patient, or dead body of a patient, under any given situation.

“Caretakers also have the right to the dead body of a patient who had been treated in a hospital and the dead body cannot be detained on procedural grounds, including nonpayment/dispute regarding payment of hospital charges against wishes of the caretakers,” the draft charter says.

Joint Secretary Sudhir Kumar issued a notice wherein it is mentioned that the ministry will soon bring in force the charter through the provisions of the state government for proper healthcare by clinical establishments.

The National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) drafted charter has been uploaded on the website of the Health Ministry. Suggestions and comments from public and stakeholders have been invited on matter.

The draft also provides for fair and prompt redressal of complaints lodged by the patient and caregivers. It assures that a written outcome of the complaint lodged will be provided to the complainer within 15 days.

An internal redressal system is also being established so as to comply and cooperate with the official mechanisms. The Patient’s Right Charter also advocates providing relevant information to all the patients when in their need.

Patients can seek relief for any kind of infringement of rights that they have encountered from any kind of clinical establishment.

“This may be done by lodging a complaint with an official designated for this purpose by the hospital and further with an official mechanism constituted by the government such as Patients’ Rights Tribunal Forum or clinical establishments regulatory authority as the case may be,” it states.

The draft further says that every patient or their family members have the right over the original copies of case papers, indoor patient records, investigation reports during period of admission etc. These are to be provided within 24 hours – 72 hours of discharge. The hospitals have been ordered to comply if a patient needs a second opinion. All the records, information etc. should be provided by the hospital to the patient’s second opinion without billing them for the same.

Patient’s right to privacy, doctors’ confidentiality of information and treatment plan, right to information of the tariff of the hospital, display of key rate on the brochure in the local language as well as English, etc. – are some more clauses on which the draft charter speaks in detail.

“Every patient has the right to receive treatment without any discrimination based on his or her illnesses or conditions, including HIV status or other health condition, religion, caste, ethnicity, gender, age, sexual orientation, linguistic or geographical/social origins,” it stated.

Information source: livemint

Title image: apollohospitals

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