Pvt hospitals suspend OPD services, one dead

Pvt hospitals suspend OPD services, one dead

A 17-year-old girl died and thousands of patients across the state were turned away after private hospitals suspended their out-patient department services on Friday.

They were protesting against the Karnataka Private Medical Establishments (KPME) Bill.

Shabana, a resident of Chambol in Bidar taluk, was bitten by a snake while working in the fields. She was rushed to a private hospital which refused to treat her.

She died while she was being shifted to the district hospital, medical superintendent Dr Vijay Antappanavar said.

At least 60,000 private doctors from 40,000 medical establishments across the state have declared their support for the protest against the government.

The protest is backed by the Indian Medical Association (IMA).

Shabana's parents said their daughter died as she was not given treatment on time.

Patients angry

Private hospitals wore a deserted look on Friday with few doctors and paramedical staff attending to in-patient and emergency cases.

Pre-scheduled appointments were rescheduled, while thousands of other patients who walked in were turned away.

This angered patients who entered into heated arguments with hospital staff.

Several hospitals displayed notices about the closure of out-patient services. However, diagnostic services were available.

"Hospitals are not accepting any patients. We have sent people to check how many hospitals are working and we have received a positive response," said Dr Veeranna B, secretary, Indian Medical Association, Karnataka.

Dr R Ravindra, secretary of the Private hospitals and Nursing Homes Association (PHANA) said that hospitals have not denied any emergencies.

According to a press release by the Department of Health and Family Welfare, there were more patients in government hospitals than usual. It stated that around 20% to 25% more patients turned up in the government hospitals.

This, however, was denied by one of the senior doctors at Victoria Hospital, who said that they had a normal flow of out-patients. Various other organisations fighting for people's right to health conducted a press conference on Friday condemning the protest of the private medical establishments.

Members from 15 different organisations said that private medical establishments, by opposing the bill, is misrepresenting and distorting several aspects of the bill.

"Their demand to scrap the grievance redressal committee is unjustified," said Vinay Srinivasa from Alternate Law Forum, which was part of the press conference.

Health Minister K R Ramesh Kumar said that he had no information about the strike by members of the IMA as it had not served any notice on him or the state government.

He said the draft of the amendment to the KPME Act had been discussed with all stakeholders before tabling it in the Assembly.

The IMA, too, was furnished with a draft and it had expressed its satisfaction in the meeting chaired by Chief Minister Siddaramaiah.

The bill will come up for discussion in the winter session to be held at Belagavi and approval will be given for the formation of complaints redressal committee, he added.

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