mid-day editorial: Fleecing patients will cost hospitals dearly

Finance Minister Arun Jaitley in his Union Budget 2017-2018 stated that the government is committed to making structural reforms in medical education and its practice, and he also proposed amendments to drug rules to ensure medicines are available at reasonable rates. As things stand, the schism between the masses and medical care seems to be an ever-widening one.

Cases of medical negligence, lack of adequate resources to offer decent treatment, heavy commercialisation in the industry and, of late, a spike in the number of assaults on medical institutions have made people wary of the fraternity. Of course, incidents of patients misbehaving with medical personnel also make headlines frequently.

And now, much to the shock of citizens, cases have been filed against prominent private institutions across Mumbai for violation of prescribed norms and overcharging patients for supplies. Seven leading private city hospitals have come under the Legal Metrology Organisation (LMO) scanner for selling packaged medical supplies, goods and equipment at rates far more than their MRP.

While the hospitals are trying to defend their actions, they must adhere to the MRP on products. Most families struggle to pay the steep bills at these private institutions. Why add to their woes by overcharging on sale of products with defined MRP? It will only deepen the mistrust the masses bear towards the medical fraternity.

Charging as per MRP should be part of medical ethics. Let there be constant inspections across medical institutions to monitor if the same is being flouted. Clarity on cost of products and services must be offered to a patient's family. Putting a stop to these violations is the first step to ensure the promises made in the Budget are honoured.

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