After letter from District Collector's office, hospital waives off charges and allows patient to go home; Ruby Hall Clinic claims it complied with directive out of courtesy to state official even though it's not legally bound to do so
For eight days, Shirur resident Salim Dastagir Shaikh, who belongs to an extremely poor family, was forced to stay at the city's well-known Ruby Hall Clinic even after completion of treatment because his family could not afford to pay the hospital's bills. This happened despite the fact that Shaikh belonged to the Below Poverty Line
Money matters: The Ruby Hall Clininc, which billed Salim Dastagir
Shaikh Rs 1.38 lakh and reportedly did not allow him to leave pending
full payment. Pic/Krunal Gosavi
(BPL) category of patients and, according to the law, is entitled to free treatment at the hospital. According to a complaint filed with the Collector's office by the patient's brother-in-law Salim Mujawar, Shaikh met with an accident and was admitted to Ruby Hall Clinic on August 30 in a serious condition.
He underwent treatment till September 6 at the hospital, during which period the family paid Rs 52,000 towards medical expenses. The sum had been arranged by exhausting all their savings and the on day of the discharge, the family was asked to come up with Rs 86,000 as balance payment since the total bill had come to Rs 1.38 lakh.
"The patient's kin tried asking for a concession and produced all necessary papers to prove they belonged to BPL category. However, the hospital refused, stating that if patients require concessions or free treatment, the hospital has to be informed prior to admission or during treatment. We enquired about the patient's family income and found it to be a case of a genuine BPL patient and that's why the Collector directed the hospital to let the patient go," said a senior official from the District Collector's office.
Cllectorate officials said they were also surprised that the hospital had denied the patient discharge pending the payment of his bill. After the letter from the Collector's office reached Ruby Hall Clinic, the hospital let the patient go home and waived off his bill. Medical director Dr Sujata Mallik defended Ruby Hall Clinic's initial stand by stating that it had not done anything illegal.
She said that letting the patient go was out of courtesy for the Collector. "The patient was allowed to go without payment as we decided to honour the Collector's letter. But we weren't legally bound or obliged to do so. That's because, according to the rules formed by the Charity Commissioner, the patient has to inform us at the time of admission or at least before the final billing is done if he wants concession under BPL category. We were completely justified in billing him and refusing to adjust later as he hadn't informed us until the final billing was done," she said.