Rein in private hospitals, Centre tells states

Rein in private hospitals, Centre tells states

The Union Health Ministry on Thursday advised state governments to clearly convey to private hospitals not to indulge in unfair means in billing and to maintain transparency while treating a patient.

"A meeting with all important health care establishments (including private hospitals) of your state be taken and they be clearly sounded not to indulge in such (unfair) practices failing which strict action will be taken," Union Health Secretary Preeti Sudan wrote to chief secretaries of all states.

The official letter comes in the wake of the recent incident at Fortis Gurugram hospital where the medical establishment gave a bill of Rs 16 lakh to the father of a seven-year-old girl, who was treated for dengue for 15 days at the intensive care unit of the hospital, but ultimately died.

The ministry asked the Haryana government to probe the incident and also sought a clinical report and details of the bill from the hospital.

"It has been alleged that the patient was grossly overcharged and standard treatment protocols were not followed," she wrote.

The Fortis case was not an isolated one as the health secretary maintained there were other reported instances of malpractices. They include exorbitant charges, deficiency in service, violation of standard treatment protocols, compromise on patient safety and lack of transparency and accountability.

"Such incidents have an extremely deleterious impact on the faith of the general public in healthcare system. It is our duty to ensure that such incidents don't recur and treatment is provided at a fair and affordable price," she wrote.

In Karnataka

The letter from the central government official came in the wake of another round of confrontation between doctors and Karnataka government over a legislation that among other things seeks to fix the bed and procedural charges in private hospitals. The bill has now been passed by the Karnataka Assembly.

Sudan also asked the states to adopt and implement the Clinical Establishment act, 2010, which was made with the underlying objective of regulating the private hospital and nursing home industry.

The act came into effect in four states - Arunachal Pradesh, Himachal Pradesh, Sikkim and Mizoram - and all union territories except Delhi in 2012. Later six other states - Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Rajasthan, Bihar, Jharkhand and Assam - adopted it. Earlier this year, West Bengal came out with its own legislation, modelled on the central act.

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