March 16, 2017
Nadimul Haque speaks on medical negligence in private hospitals
Sir, in the absence of doctors and due to dissatisfaction with quality standards at State-run or public hospitals, an increasing proportion of people are using private healthcare facilities, though they are more expensive. In 2014, the average cost of hospital care by a public utility was Rs 6,120 while private institutions were four times more costly at Rs 25,850. Sir, in the last decade, while the cost of treatment has more or less doubled, insurance cover is still less than 15 per cent.
However, recent cases in multi-speciality hospitals across the country show an abysmal state of private healthcare. Private hospitals lack transparency, often resulting in an increase in medical negligence amounting to severe injuries and even deaths.
A case in point is that of Sanjay Roy, a Dankuni resident, at a world-famous private hospital in Kolkata. He sadly died due to alleged medical negligence. Sir, here I want all honourable Members to listen, and listen with feelings, because only then will you understand what pains his family had to go through. The point that I want to highlight is that hospitals authorities refused to release his body unless the hospital dues were cleared. His family had to keep their fixed deposit certificates as a security, only then his body was released.
Sir, the West Bengal Government has passed an Act which seeks to bring more transparency in healthcare, ending harassment of patients and checking medical negligence in private hospitals and nursing homes. Private hospitals will now have to pay compensation in cases of medical negligence with fines as high as Rs 10 lakh or more.
Sir, similarly, there ought to be a Central law regulating private hospitals in terms of over-pricing of medical treatment, cancellation of licenses and payment of compensations in cases of medical negligence. Other States may want to enact law following the example set by Bengal. Finally, what we all need to understand is that health service is not a commercial proposition; it is a service which needs to be delivered with humility and a human touch.
I end with a Urdu couplet, Sir.
Aise mahol mein tabah kya hain, dua kya hain
Jahan qatil hi khud poochen ki hawa kya hain