Mumbai: Kurla hospital withholds teen girl's body over unpaid bill

Updated: Jan 24, 2020, 07:29 IST | Arita Sarkar | Mumbai

Distraught single mother takes 13-yr-old's remains home after neighbours pitch in and negotiate with Kurla's Kohinoor Hospital for over 12 hours

Pooja Rajbhar
Pooja Rajbhar

A mother dealing with the death of her teenage daughter had to also fight the hospital which refused to release the girl's body for over 12 hours over unpaid bills.

Discussions with Kohinoor Hospital in Kurla were on till Thursday evening over 13-year-old Pooja Rajbhar's body. Urmila Rajbhar, a 36-year-old single mother, said Pooja was her fifth and youngest child.

"Pooja had a fever for almost a month. Despite various tests at several hospitals, no doctors were able to cure her," she said.

A doctor suggested that Pooja be taken for a CT scan to Kohinoor Hospital. "I brought her to Kohinoor Hospital on January 18. The hospital said the CT scan will happen only on Monday and admitted her," the Ambedkar Nagar resident said.

"The doctors said the CT scan would be expensive but didn't clearly mention the cost. After the second day, they gave us a bill of over R1 lakh," she said. She borrowed money from various sources and deposited Rs 90,000.

Urmila claimed that Pooja's condition started deteriorating on Monday. "We were called to the hospital at 2.30 am on Thursday. She had died. The hospital said they won't release the body until we pay the full bill," she said. A 2018 Bombay High Court judgment had stated that detaining patients over pending dues is illegal.

Her neighbours pitched in and deposited R37,500. One of them, Cyril Muthu, said, "Officials first said they would consider the case but later asked for full payment." The body was released at 6 pm after Urmila's relatives refused to pay further.

"She was in multi-organ failure and sepsis shock. We tried our best to stabilise her but she could not be revived," said Manoj Naik, senior manager at Kohinoor Hospital. The hospital denied having withheld the body and said that no one came to claim it. "When the family said they are having difficulty in arranging the money, we released the body and requested an undertaking to pay the amount later," Naik said. The Rajbhars owe the hospital R90,000.

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