Detaining patients for not clearing bills an offence, says Bombay HC

The court suggested to hospitals that alternative remedies are available under the law.

| Mumbai | Published: April 6, 2016 1:28 am
 Bombay HC, detaining patient, pending bill, pending medical bill, mumbai news Bombay High Court

THE Bombay High Court Tuesday remarked that the practice of hospitals detaining patients who have not cleared bills amounts to an “offence” and “unauthorised detainment”.

In such situations, said a bench of Justice A S Oka and Justice P D Naik, criminal law has to be set in motion. The court has also asked Association of Medical Consultants (AMC), comprising over 7,500 city-based medical practitioners, to suggest solutions to the issue and specify its stand on collection of medical fee.

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The court was hearing a public interest litigation (PIL) seeking to develop a mechanism to help hospitals recover their dues and also prevent them from resorting to measures such as detaining patients or keeping back bodies.

The court suggested to hospitals that alternative remedies are available under the law.

“Before we go to the stand of the government, please make your stand very clear,” the court told the AMC.

Appearing for the body, advocate Rui Rodrigues said feasible measures have to be found to solve the issue, and submitted a list of suggestions.

Some of the suggestions are notifying patients in advance about their schedule of fees and insisting on deposits before admission of indoor patients.

Advocate Mankunwar Deshmukh, who appeared for the state government, informed the court that the Maharashtra Chemical Establishment (Registration and Regulation) draft Bill, 2014, which it formulated, is before the Finance Department. “The department has come up with some queries,” she said.

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