The Bombay High Court on Friday suggested that the state government should put up details about patients' rights on its website to make the general public aware of their rights in case private or government hospitals detain them for non-payment of bills and what action they can propose to take against them.
A division bench of Justice SC Dharmadhikari and Justice Bharati Dangre said detaining a patient in the hospital over unpaid bills is illegal, and "every member of public" must be made aware of this. It said, "How can a hospital detain a person who is declared fit otherwise on the ground of non-payment of fees? Such a hospital is curtailing the personal liberty of an individual."
The bench, however, refused to issue any specific regulatory order against hospitals saying it is the government's job. "We can't commit a judicial overreach by issuing regulations on the issue. However we must make it clear that we are sympathetic to the issue," stated the bench.
The observation was made during the hearing of two petitions wherein patients were detained by hospitals for the non-payment of funds. One petition was filed by Kurla resident Trevor Britto (54), alleging that Prachin Healthcare Multi-specialty Hospital in Panvel refused to discharge his injured bus driver Chandrakant Pawar. The other petition was filed by a Santacruz resident, who had alleged that Seven Hills Hospital in Marol refused to discharge his brother for not paying disputed dues of Rs 1.80 lakh. Both hospitals refuted the allegations.