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Posted at: Mar 11, 2018, 1:18 AM; last updated: Mar 11, 2018, 1:18 AM (IST)

Healthcare in doldrums in cybercity Gurugram

Sumedha Sharma
Healthcare in doldrums  in cybercity Gurugram
Photo S Chandan

Sumedha Sharma in Gurugram

An unusual commotion grips the Chief Medical Officer’s chamber in Gurugram. Over a dozen people carry heaps of documents and files bearing the names of Gurugram’s top hospitals. The people are handing an array of complaints seeking inquiries against top-notch private hospitals for using ‘extra’ gloves or expensive antibiotics or overcharging them for diagnostic tests. Many of these cases are as old as three years. In other cases, patients continue to visit the OPDs of the same hospitals and want a refund.

“For the last three months, it has become an everyday affair. Ever since the state inquiry into a dengue shock syndrome death at Fortis Hospital, people have been walking in demanding similar inquiries. Those complaining of even a hint of negligence are sent to the negligence boards. But what to do with others?” says CMO BK Rajaura.

Sources says over 70 such complaints have so far been received by the district health authorities. But officials are unclear as to how to proceed in such cases. 

The answer may lie in the Clinical Establishment Act notified by Haryana in January this year. But details of various rules are yet to be received. The Haryana Clinical Establishment (registration and regulation) Act was passed by the assembly in March 2014. It faced resistance from the Indian Medical Association (Haryana Chapter) which demanded major changes. Agreeing to their terms to restrict the jurisdiction of the Act to institutes having more than 50 beds, the Act was approved as an ordinance and notified almost a month ago.

The laws, according to health ministry officials, aim to regulate the working of all categories of private clinical establishments, government hospitals and diagnostic centres. Apart from cracking down on quacks by mandating registration, the Act promises to ensure maintenance of certain minimum standards of services and facilities laid down by the government. These establishments are proposed to be subjected to regular inspections and checks. 

“The notification will streamline the healthcare industry in the state. It will not only safeguard the patient’s rights but also ensure justice to doctors,” says Naresh Sharma, IMA Gurugram chief. However, the broad rules fail to meet the new-age demands of a world-class medical hub like Gurugram. The patients are fighting for a cap on prices of common treatment procedures such as dialysis or chemo, common diagnostic procedures such as ultrasounds or MRIS and fixing packages for the ICU for longer stays for poor patients or state employees. The hospitals demand the ‘right to earn’ in return for world-class facilities. 

Over the last few years, the healthcare industry in Gurugram has expanded to include 150 institutes, most claiming to offer world-class in treatments and facilities. The haven of ‘five star hospitals’ was rattled last year with a social media post saying “16 lakh for dengue treatment.” Then came to the fore the tale of a father from Delhi whose seven-year-old daughter had died from dengue shock syndrome.

The father accused the posh Fortis memorial Research Institute of not just negligence but also grossly overcharging him. The incident led to patients seeking inquiries on a host of issues. These included a hospital’s decision to keep patients confined to the ICU for a long period, the generic-versus-costly medicines, rates of consumable or consultation fees, costly experimentations in the name of treatments and the need or allocation of ventilators or blood bank procedures. These angry inquiries have left hospitals fuming. 

“Come to the bill desk anytime; it’s an arena with people fighting for the heck of it. Those who have been under treatments for as long as five years and felt satisfied till now walk up seeking refunds. We hold counseling for patients’ attendants twice a day. Rather than enquiring about the well-being of their near ones, the families seek written records of needles or gloves that we use,” says medical superintendent of a renowned hospital.  “We give best facilities and pay the government for lands taxes and bills at commercial rates. It’s high time the state government stepped in to clarify our right to treat, charge, and even earn. After all, we never say we are charitable institutes,” said the medical superintendent.

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