Delhi : Hospitals cannot withhold the bodies of patients who die during treatment on the ground of unpaid medical bills

Delhi : Hospitals cannot withhold the bodies of patients who die during treatment on the ground of unpaid medical bills...

Delhi : Hospitals cannot withhold the bodies of patients who die during treatment on the ground of unpaid medical bills

MEDtalks with Dr KK Aggarwal

Policy

Hospitals and nursing homes in the city cannot withhold the bodies of patients who die during treatment on the ground of unpaid medical bills

Draft advisory will be put in the public domain to invite objections/suggestions within 30 days.

The Minister said that the Delhi Nursing Home Act would be changed to incorporate the final advisory chalked out on the basis of objections/suggestions/directions received.

Provisions could lead to cancellation of the clinic/hospital's licence.

If a patient dies, hospitals cannot refuse to hand over the body to relatives, saying that bills have not been paid.

In case a bill remains unpaid and has not been waived, a hospital can follow the legal route to get the family to pay up.

The Delhi government has proposed regulations that would restrict hospitals and nursing homes from marking up prices of several medicines and consumables over 50% from their procurement price in a move to curb alleged profiteering at these establishments.

Private hospitals can charge patients the maximum retail prices (MRPs) for medicines in the National List of Essential Medicines, 2015, as their prices have already been capped.

For non-essential drugs, disposables and consumables, all clinical establishments in the National Capital Territory of Delhi can bill patients at MRP or up to 50% over the procurement price as mark-up against administrative or handling charges, whichever is less. This mark-up is limited to 35% for implants, according to the advisory.

The government has also constituted a separate sub-committee to cap the prices that can be charged by private hospitals for investigations like diagnostic tests, according to the document.

The proposed amendments will come into effect in 30 days after seeking public comments

Hospitals also cannot force patients to buy medicines from their in-house pharmacies

The draft recommends hospitals waive off 50% of the total bill in case the patient dies in the emergency room within six hours of arrival and 20% in case of death within 24 hours of arrival.

All doctors practicing modern medicine in the region should “preferably” prescribe drugs from the NLEM list and, prior to prescribing non-NLEM drugs, the patient shall be counselled. Hospitals also cannot force patients to buy medicines from their in-house pharmacies, according to the advisory.

Mechanisms to eradicate any cuts and commissions

Hospitals in the region should also ensure that rates of surgery packages should be “transparent, without any hidden charges” and should disclose whether it covers any complications during the procedure.

Hospitals levying extra charges in packages before surgery to insure complications have to display these charges “at conspicuous places”

Any additional procedure performed on the patient shall be charged at 50% of its original rate, while hospitals cannot charge more than 20% above the original package rate for “high risk” procedures covering complications

The hospitals are expected to bear any additional costs exceeding these package rates

Other proposed amendments in the draft include mechanisms to eradicate any cuts and commissions and treatment in case of emergencies.

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