COVID-19: Navi Mumbai commissioner warns hospitals against overcharging, denying admission

Updated: 12 August, 2020 12:52 IST | Anurag Kamble | Mumbai

As per the latest order by NMMC commissioner, hospitals shall not deny admission to walk-in patients, especially those having oxygen saturation of less than 95 per cent

Health workers collect swab tests from residents of Govandi. Pic/Ashish Raje
Health workers collect swab tests from residents of Govandi. Pic/Ashish Raje

Navi Mumbai municipal commissioner ordered all private and charitable hospitals to stop overcharging patients. Issuing several instructions to the hospital authorities, municipal commissioner of Navi Mumbai Municipal Corporation (NMMC) Abhijeet Bangar directed them to have a real-time dashboard of bed status in the hospitals.

The NMMC also asked hospitals not to charge patients for PPE kits and other consumables which are used for multiple patients. Additionally, no dead body can be withheld for non-payment of hospital bills.

NMMC is battling with the COVID-19 pandemic and to date, 19,000 cases have been reported, of which 3,382 are undergoing treatment. Most of these patients are admitted to private and charitable hospitals across the city. There were many complaints from patients' relatives and political parties about hospitals overcharging and harassing patients over bills.

Now on, in every COVID-19 hospital, 80 per cent of beds shall be regulated by the NMMC. The charges of these beds shall be levied as per government norms. The hospitals shall display these details prominently in the main entrance lobby in the prescribed format and shall also update the real-time bed occupancy data on NMMC dashboard.

"There should not be any discrepancy in the occupancy data shown on the NMMC dashboard and actual vacancy in the hospital. The hospitals shall display at a prominent place, the details of rates. It is the duty of the concerned hospital to explain to the patient/relatives the details of all types of charges. The hospital shall not seek any deposit from any patient at the time of admission. If any critical patient is referred to the hospital, he/she shall not be deprived of getting admission on the ground of financial capacity," read the directives issued by NMMC commissioner

As per the latest order, hospitals shall not deny admission to walk-in patients, especially those having oxygen saturation of less than 95 per cent. "In the case of bed unavailability, the hospital shall stabilise the patient in their triage section until the bed is made available in another facility and shift the patient to that facility in an ambulance having an oxygen facility," the directives further stated.

"Charges for any medical implants, Guider-wire Catheter, PPE kit, etc. should not be more than the rates declared by institutes like Haffkin and in any case, shall not be more than 10 per cent markup on net procurement cost incurred. Hospitals may levy additional charges of not more than five per cent on the total bill, excluding items mentioned above. If any of the items are used for more than one patient then the prescribed cost shall be divided among such patients. Preferably generic medicines shall be used for patients and charges would be levied accordingly. The hospital shall avoid giving out bills with vague statements and ensure that item wise list of all equipment, consumables, medicines, etc. is given along with quantity utilised and per unit charges," said Bangar.

At the time of discharge, the patient should be provided with an ambulance to reach his/her residence. Every eligible patient under Mahatma Jyotiba Phule Jan Arogya Yojana (MJPJAY) shall be given benefits of the scheme. The hospital may take the help of an insurance agency in order to ensure effective implementation of the scheme.

For COVID-19 patients, Leave Against Medical Advice (LAMA)/Discharge Against Medical Advice (DAMA) shall not be allowed. In case a patient is shifted to another facility, the hospital shall ensure that the patient is shifted with proper discharge/referral note. While shifting the patient, the hospital should ensure that patient is transferred only in the ambulance with oxygen support.

In case of an event of unfortunate death of a patient, the hospital shall not withhold or retain the body of the patient from handing it over to the relatives for non-payment of bill. Hospitals shall allow smartphones/tablet devices in the patient area so that patients can video conference with their family/friends. Appropriate protocols of disinfection of devices, timeslots, etc. can be developed by hospitals concerned.

Any hospital found violating the aforesaid guidelines shall be considered to have committed an offence punishable under Section 188 of the Indian Penal Code (IPC).

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First Published: 12 August, 2020 11:40 IST

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