A Bombay high court bench has asked the state to consider balancing the rights of doctors and hospitals with those of patients while enacting legislation regarding regulation of clinical establishments.
The HC made the observation while hearing a PIL that arose out of a bunch of petitions filed in 2014 concerning patients who were being detained by hospitals over disputed bills.
The government has submitted that it has proposed a law and also submitted a draft Maharashtra Clinical Establishments (Registration & Regulation) Bill, 2014.
Patients Cannot Be Confined Illegally
A bench led by Justice Satyaranjan Dharmadhikari asked the advocate general to “consider seriously” the issues raised in this matter including regulation of the fees paid to doctors.
According to the judges, there was a difference between the bill that an individual doctor charges and that of a hospital. They pointed out that the composite bill issued by a hospital may not take into account concessions given by doctors such as waived off charges since it bears the costs for the facility.
The bench has stated that no patient who has been declared as fit can be “unlawfully confined” by the hospital.
Issue Of Unpaid Bills Must Be Solved
Appearing for Association of Medical Consultants, Rui Rodrigues noted that the members of the association (doctors, small to medium hospitals and nursing homes) do not want to detain patients but added that “the issue of unpaid bills” must be addressed.
Advocate Rahul Gaikwad, who is representing Association of Hospitals, that counts as members large hospitals like Lilavat and, Hinduja stated that the association had sent a letter to the Insurance Regulatory and Development Authority enquiring if a scheme can be floated to insure persons against such situations.
The judges observed that it will be of “great service’’ if hospitals come up with a self-regulatory mechanism to handle these situations adding that “state intervention should be the last resort’’.