TAKE ACTION AGAINST PRIVATE HOSPITALS FOR OVERCHARGING, UNION HEALTH MINISTRY TO STATE GOVTS

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New Delhi, The Hush Post: Taking note of the woes of the common man and in a much-needed initiative on the government’s part, the Union Health Ministry on Thursday asked the state governments to issue strict warnings to hospitals, including private ones, and to take action against the erring hospitals for malpractices like overcharging and not following standard treatment protocols.Recently, Gurgaon’s Fortis Hospital had slapped a bill of Rs 16 lakh on the family of a 7-year-old dengue patient who died.  “It is time to learn lessons from such incidents and I advise that a meeting with all important healthcare establishments, including private hospitals, of your state be taken and they be clearly sounded not to indulge in such practices, failing which strict action will be taken,” said Union Health Secretary Preeti Sudan, in a letter to the chief secretaries of all the states.

She asked the states to ensure implementation of the Clinical Establishment (Registration and Regulation) Act, 2010 under which all hospitals can be regulated.  “I request you to kindly get the Clinical Establishment Act adopted implemented by your state also,” Sudan said in the letter. Notably, the union territory of Delhi has not adopted and implemented the Act yet, only five states and and all UTs except Delhi have adopted and implemented it. States like Bihar, Uttar Pradesh and Uttarakhand have adopted the Act but but are yet to implement it.

Sudan said effective action can be taken against healthcare establishments indulging in fraudulent and unethical practices under the Act. Moreover, there are provisions under other Acts too, under which action can be contemplated against such activities.

“Such incidents have an extremely deleterious impact on the faith of the general public in the healthcare system of the country,” she further noted. “It is our duty to ensure that such incidents don’t recur,” she said.

The Clinical Establishments Act has been enacted by the Centre with a view to prescribe the minimum standards of facilities and services provided by hospitals. The Act is applicable to all types (both therapeutic and diagnostic types) of clinical establishments in the public and private sectors.

Under the Act, a technical committee must be set up to decide on charges for treatment of different diseases and procedures at clinical establishments, including private hospitals. Hospitals are supposed to display the charges for each procedure and facility to keep the patient informed in advance. Failure to adhere to these guidelines would result in imposition of penalty. Under the Act, standard treatment guidelines are specified for 227 diseases, including dengue, chikungunya and malaria.

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