Bombay High Court orders the doctors to release the detained patients

Sai Manoj Reddy

There is a petition filed at the Bombay high court by Mr. Sanjay Prajapati stating that his brother was detained by seven hills hospital and this case was heard by the division bench of Justice V.M. Kanade and P.D. Kode. Mr. Sanjay Prajapati’s brother was admitted in the seven hills hospital, andheri, after having a head injury. He was treated and operated and the bill was given as Rs. 4.56 lakhs and Mr. Prajapati deposited a sum of amount 2.76 lakhs and he should pay 1.8 lakhs more according to the bill. Prajapati later wrote to the CEO of the hospital alleging improper treatment and bogus billings, but got no response. Finding no improvement in his brother’s condition, he decided to shift him elsewhere, but the hospital refused to discharge the patient till the disputed bills were cleared. Then Mr. Prajapati filed a petition in the Bombay High Court. According to the petition, the visiting fee was charged even when the surgeon was on leave. The staff also behaved badly with them as they were poor. The petitioner also said that he was charged additional 1 lakh rupees for the sugar tests and others even the patient is not a diabetic and daily physiotherapy charges are also added even there is no such thing happened. The petitioner has urged the Court to issue direction to MIDC Police, Andheri (East) to take action against the Hospital authorities for the detention and allow him to admit his brother to a suitable hospital.

Then the Bombay high court on august 21 asked the medical council of India to inform whether it can frame the rules to have control over the hospitals in the cases where patients are detained and bodies are not released by the hospitals. The high court turned the petition as public interest litigation in order to decide on a mechanism to help the hospitals in recovering their dues and prevent them from resorting to practises such as detaining patients or keeping back bodies for non-payment of bills. To the request of the High Court MCI said that it has control over doctors but not over the hospitals.

The Association of Medical Consultants and Hospitals, which has 8,000 specialist doctors and 1,500 hospitals under its fold, opined that detaining patients or not releasing bodies due to non-payment of bills was an unfair practice. Counsel for the Association Rui Rodrigues said some foreign countries have a Debt Recovery Act which has a provision of Medical Insurance wherein hospitals can recover their legitimate dues. Such a provision can also be made in India in accordance with the laws of this country, he said. Rodrigues said that both the doctors and the hospitals do not want to detain patients in case of non-payment of dues and a mechanism needs to be worked out to strike a balance between the needs of patients and recovery of medical bills.

On considering all the above things Bombay High Court observed that hospitals are running like shops now a days and doctors have forgotten their duty. There is over commercialisation of hospitals in India. The Courts throughout the country have been taking a serious note of such instances and making an attempt to ensure health services for everybody in the country, whether rich or poor.

On the above issue justice Manmohan observed that, “just because someone is poor the state can’t allow them to die. In fact government is bound to ensure that poor and vulnerable sections of the society have access to the treatment to the rare and chronic diseases. After all health is not a luxury and should not be the sole possession of a few privileged people.