A heavily pregnant woman delivered her baby in a car after being refused admission in Noida's district hospital. Her husband, a poor labourer, did not have R12, 000, the money the hospital authorities asked towards the delivery costs.
This is not an isolated incident of apathy by staff of government hospital, where a woman was forced to deliver in the most uncomfortable and unhygienic surroundings of a car, despite reaching the hospital in time.
In India, most government hospitals blatantly flout the Supreme Court ruling, which prohibits hospitals from turning away patients requiring emergency care.
Earlier this year, a 28-year-old woman from Jahangeera-ganj locality of Ambedkar Nagar delivered at the gates of Mahatma Jyotiba Phule district hospital in UP after being refused admission. Why? Because she was HIV positive. In April 2008, a woman delivered still-born twins under a tree outside Guru Tegh Bahadur Hospital in northeast Delhi after being refused a bed, as she didn't have an OPD card.
“These incidents are in complete aberration of the Supreme Court ruling. The hospitals cannot refuse admission and treatment to the critically ill or emergency patients on any grounds," said Ashok Agarwal, legal rights activist and advocate, Delhi High Court.
“This act amounts to violation of right to health guaranteed under Article 21 of the Constitution besides breach of Hippocratic oath, taken by doctors swearing to practice medicine ethically. The aggrieved patient is entitled to adequate amount of compensation. The erring doctors are also liable for disciplinary action," he said.
To prevent the practice of dumping of patients by hospitals, the US Congress enacted the Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act of 1986 (for short, COBRA). The law requires the hospital to stabilise the emergency condition of the patient before deciding to transfer or discharge the patient. Provision is made to impose penalties against hospitals or physicians that negligently violate COBRA.