The Delhi Cabinet on Tuesday discussed “various options” to ensure dengue patients are not turned away by private hospitals. The Cabinet meeting was held two days after The Indian Express reported the death of seven-year-old Avinash Rout, who died of dengue after he was turned away by five private hospitals. His parents committed suicide after cremating him.
Sources said in the meeting chaired by Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal, ministers discussed bringing in a law to ensure no hospital refused a patient. It was also debated whether the government could levy penalties or cancel the licences of hospitals that turn patients away or a new regulation was required to ensure patient safety.
“It was decided that these options will be finalised very soon. The Cabinet also discussed the possibility of convening a special session of the Assembly to implement the option the government will finalise to deal with negligence by private hospitals,” said a government statement.
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“At present, these options are before the Cabinet. Once it decides on the option, a special Assembly session will be convened,” a source said.
Separately, in a meeting with over 100 representatives from private hospitals, Health Minister Satyendar Jain warned that no patient should be refused admission. He said the hospitals would have to increase bed capacity to accommodate dengue patients. For this, he said, the government would relax the norms for “per bed” spacing.
Earlier on Tuesday, Kejriwal said his government was planning to bring a law under which private hospitals refusing admission to emergency patients could be penalised. He also conducted surprise checks at several hospitals, including Guru Teg Bahadur and Dr Hedgewar Aarogya Sansthan in Karkardooma.
“It pains me to see children dying of dengue due to lack of beds. Hospitals which refuse treatment will not be spared. There can be no explanation for refusing treatment to a patient, especially a child, for profit…,” he said.
Kejriwal said cancelling licences would only worsen the situation of beds. “I want to take action against hospitals, but cancelling licences is not the solution. This will only worsen the hospital bed situation,” he said.