Apathy towards EWS patients continues

Docs at AIIMS refuse to refer a poor patient to private hospital

Continued to be discriminated against in healthcare delivery, poor patients find it tough to get treated in hospitals despite orders in their favour by the Delhi High Court and Supreme Court.

Latest in the series is the refusal by doctors at All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) to refer a poor patient to a private hospital for diagnosis. They allegedly manhandled him in the process.

Pushakar Kumar Jha from Darbhanga, Bihar, was facing trouble hearing. He came to Delhi on June 3 and went to the ENT department of AIIMS where he was asked to get an MRI test done.

There was a long queue for the test at the AIIMS facility, and he was being a date six months away. Looking at the urgency of the matter, the doctors then asked him to get an MRI from outside.

The patient, coming from economically weaker section (EWS), showed his inability to pay for the test at a private facility. Trying to avail of free diagnosis facility at certain private hospitals for poor patients, he asked the AIIMS doctor to refer him there.

“My father is a farmer and the family income is not enough to meet even basic needs. I wanted to get an MRI under EWS category. However, when I approached the doctor in ENT, he said the facility is available only for people from Delhi, not from other states,” said Jha.

According to the rules, any poor patient coming to a city government hospital is entitled to facilities under EWS category. It is not limited to citizens of Delhi.

Jha was also asked to produce a below poverty line card. As he was not carrying one, he was ready to give an affidavit, a document that is sufficient according to court rulings.
As the patient argued on these lines, the doctors got agitated.

“A junior doctor, who was treating me since the beginning, manhandled me. He even hit me on my neck,” alleged Jha.

Khagesh Jha of Social Jurist organisation wrote to the concerned authorities seeking their intervention in the matter, and an enquiry into the manhandling of the patient. No reply has been received so far.

When contacted by Deccan Herald, AIIMS officials refused to comment.

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