NGO creates an online petition, requests health ministry to adopt the patient’s rights charter

A Pune-based NGO, SAATHI, has created an online petition, addressed to Union Health Minister, J P Nadda. In the petition, they have requested the Minister to adopt the patient’s rights charter, and regulate the rates in private hospitals

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In the petition, they have requested the Minister to adopt the patient’s rights charter, and regulate the rates in private hospitals.

Abhay Shukla, a health activist working with SAATHI, said, “Not a day passes when we do not read or hear about some horrific instance of medical malpractice or negligence in the media. Every year, these numbers are increasing by 110%.”

He added, “Cases like that of a seven-year-old Adya Singh, who died of Dengue after being hospitalised for a fortnight in a corporate hospital in Gurugram, Delhi, in November 2017, made headlines when her parents were billed, a whopping amount of Rs 16 lakh.”

Shukla further said, “Her tragic case highlighted the lack of transparency, rampant profiteering, and unaccountability prevailing in many private hospitals across India. Such shocking stories, which we read in the media are just the tip of the iceberg of a much larger problem.”

Another health activist working with SAATHI, Vinod Shende, said, “Millions of vulnerable patients and their families, across rural and urban India, go through similar experiences at the hands of unscrupulous, commercialized, private, and corporate hospitals.”

He added, “Many grieving patients or their families, who have suffered immense physical, emotional, and financial hardship due to the irresponsible actions of private hospitals, have been fighting a lonely and prolonged battle for justice in consumer courts and Medical Councils. These bodies are set up to resolve medical negligence and malpractice cases, yet proceedings drag on for years with no resolution in sight.”

The petition mentions the following demands:

Immediately adopt and implement the Charter for Patient Rights, without any dilution:

The National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) finalized this 17-point charter in mid-2018, including the following Rights:

  • Right to information, records and reports, transparency in tariffs, and care according to prescribed rates.
  • Right to emergency medical care
  • Right to informed consent, confidentiality, human dignity, privacy, and non-discrimination.
  • Right to safety, and quality care
  • Right to choose alternative treatment options and right to a second opinion.
  • Right to choose the source for obtaining medicines or tests when in hospital
  • Right to protection for patients involved in clinical trials, and biomedical research
  • Right to take discharge of the patient, or body of deceased, without being detained on procedural grounds
  • Right to patient education, right to be heard and seek redressal

The Charter is pending adoption by the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare (MOHFW) since October 2018.

To ensure price control of services and to provide care services in private hospitals affordable, SAATHI, in the petition, also mentioned that it is a long pending measure on which MOHFW has been dragging its feet, despite outstanding evidence of massive over-charging by many private hospitals.

The Clinical Establishment Rules-2012, clearly specifies that all hospitals must charge for procedures and services within the range of rates determined by the government.

The demand is kept in view with the utter failure of Medical Councils – both State Medical Councils and Medical Council of India (MCI) – to ensure timely and unbiased action on numerous complaints by patients related to unethical care in private hospitals.

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