The Bombay High Court has asked Maharashtra government to develop within a month a mechanism which would enable the state to take action against hospitals and doctors who detain patients and hold up bodies for non-payment of medical bills.
“Whenever a case of illegal detention comes up, the criminal law is set into motion. Therefore a mechanism needs to be set up which would enable the state to take action on the basis of complaints filed by patients and their family members,” a bench headed by Justice Abhay Oka said while hearing a PIL.
The bench, which was hearing a plea dealing with detention of patients due to non-payment of bills, also asked the government to have a dialogue with hospitals and medical consultants to find out ways to avoid such issues.
The PIL said that there were many instances where due to non-payment of bills the patients were detained or bodies not handed over to the families.
Amicus Curiae (friend of the court) Madhav Thorat argued that there should be a regulation to deal with this issue without which the high court cannot issue a writ of mandamus or direction in this matter.
Rui Rodrigues, who appeared for an organisation of more than 8,000 medical consultants, argued that this body was not in favour of detaining patients for non-payment of medical bills. However, a balance needs to be struck and a mechanism is required to be set up which would not put the doctors at the receiving end.
The HC asked the government to hold a dialogue with organisations of medical consultants and super-speciality hospitals on the issue.