“The bill of Rs 2,600 for first aid shocked me,” said Abid Ali (42).
The tailor, whose earns Rs 150 per day, had rushed his wife to the Indian Spinal Injuries Center (ISIC) on September 17 following an accident.
His wife Farhad Bano (38) was riding pillion with him on his motorcycle when they met with an accident. The hospital being closest to the accident site, Ali took his wife there.
But now this resident of a slum cluster in Nagal Dairy, Vasant Kunj, is cursing himself for bringing his wife to this hospital. The hospital has refused to release his wife, as he has not been able to clear due that run over Rs 4 lakh.
The father of two is now desperately trying to get help to arrange for his wife’s release.
Doctors said Ali’s wife is in a semi-critical state now — she is bed-ridden but stable and responds only with her eyes. She had suffered head injuries.
“After the Rs 2,600 bill, I took her to Safdarjung Hospital but brought her back after her condition deteriorated on September 20,” Ali said.
Ali claimed that doctors at ISIC had assured that his wife would recover and the treatment would cost around Rs 70-80,000 but they would treat her free.
On September 24, when slapped with a bill of Rs 2 lakh, Ali pleaded with the hospital authorities to release his wife because he can't afford treatment.
The hospital authorities have termed the allegation frivolous.
“He did not tell us about his financial status in the beginning. He signed on the estimate and paid Rs 20,000 advance. Post-surgery when he was asked to pay the dues he gave us a check of Rs 20, 000 but it bounced,” said Dr Sunil Khetrapal, medical superintendent at ISIC.
“He has not been coming to the hospital to attend to his wife since then.”
The doctor said all inpatient department (IPD) beds at the hospital are occupied at present.
“We are willing to consider him for free treatment when we have vacancy in our 10 free beds provided he clears all dues,” he added.
As per High Court orders, all private hospitals built on land given by the government are duty bound to treat 10 per cent of inpatients and 20 per cent of out patients for free. Not complying with the court orders could land the hospital in trouble.
“No hospital can detain a sick patient like this even if the person has not cleared the dues,” said Ashok Agarwal, lawyer and a social activist.
“It is illegal confinement, which is a criminal offence under the Indian Penal Code.”
Agarwal said it was a legal obligation on part of the hospital to identify economically weaker patient.