• November 1, 2020

‘Hospitals can’t deny aid to Covid patients’, Health News, ET HealthWorld

Oct 10, 2020

Chennai: The director of medical and rural health services has directed all hospitals, particularly those that do not treat Covid-19 patients, to set aside beds in emergency rooms to offer first aid and stabilize patients coming in with breathlessness or other complications of the viral infection. Violations will be considered medical negligence and can lead to legal action, including closure of the institutions, Dr S Gurunathan said.

A letter from the director, who is also the appropriate authority under the Clinical Establishment Act, was sent to all registered hospitals in the state on Friday based on complaints the health department had received over the past few days from patients and doctors at tertiary care government hospitals. “Many critically-ill patients are denied treatment by non-Covid private health care providers. They direct patients to approach government approved Covid-19 facilities without giving them basic medical support such as oxygen and some lifesaving injections and drugs,” he said.

The government has empanelled select private hospitals to treat Covid patients based on isolation facilities in the building, medical infrastructure and human resources. Hospitals that are not empanelled cannot admit patients suspected of having or have tested positive for the infection. Nevertheless, they cannot deny lifesaving treatment before sending them to approved facilities, officials said.

Earlier this week, a pharmacist who went to a private hospital in Mylapore with Covid symptoms was turned away by hospital authorities. He was taken to a government hospital by the 108 ambulance. Deans of medical college and hospitals have narrated similar incidents when patients came into emergency rooms gasping for breath and some of them were declared dead on arrival.

The circular by the DMS said, “Suspect Covid/Covid-19 infected patients fighting for life should not be denied health measures to stabilize and preserve life before referral,” it said. To facilitate this service, all clinical establishments should have dedicated beds for stabilizing critically-ill suspected Covid-19 patients in their emergency room, it said.

The director cited excerpts from the SC judgment in the 1989 Parmanand Katara vs Union of India case on health services for victims of road accidents to draw parallels to the pandemic situation. If hospitals do not offer basic medical care to patients who approach emergency rooms, the director can cancel or suspend their registration under the Clinical Establishment Act, which will force the hospital to suspend all operations.

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