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Hospitals cannot detain patients, bodies over payment: Health Ministry draft

The draft charter, if passed, will make the confiscation of a patient's body over payment illegal.

New Delhi: According to a draft of patient charter released by the Union Health Ministry on Sunday, hospitals cannot detain a patient in the hospital and not allow him or her to take discharge over procedural grounds such as dispute in payment of hospital charges. The charter states that it is the duty of the hospital to not wrongfully confine any patient, or dead body of a patient treated in a hospital under any circumstance.

“Every patient has the right to receive treatment without any discrimination based on his or her illnesses or conditions, including HIV status or other health condition, religion, caste, ethnicity, gender, age, sexual orientation, linguistic or geographical/social origins,” it stated.

A notice issued by Joint Secretary Sudhir Kumar says that the ministry plans to implement the charter through state governments for provision of proper healthcare by clinical establishments. The draft also includes that every patient or their family members have the right to access originals or copies of case papers, indoor patient records, investigation reports during period of admission, preferably within 24 hours before and  72 hours after discharge.

They also have the right to seek second opinion and in such a case the hospital management has a duty to respect the patient’s right to second opinion.

Additionally, it should provide to the patient’s caregivers, all necessary records and information required for seeking such opinion without any extra cost or delay.

All patients have a right to privacy, and doctors have a duty to hold information about their health condition and treatment plan in strict confidentiality.

It could only be provided in specific circumstances where it is necessary to communicate such information in the interest of protecting others or due to public health considerations.

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