Patients have right to access hospital bills, treatment details: Mohali consumer panel
The District Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission has said it is the fundamental right of patients to get detailed information from hospitals on medical bills and treatment.
The commission was on September 21 disposing of a complaint filed by Satrajit Sharma from Ludhiana after he was not given bills for treatment and medicines by Chandan Hospital in Phase 7, Mohali.
“As per the new Consumer Protection Act, 2019, rights of consumers are very carefully protected. We feel that it was fundamental and natural right of the consumer to get bills and details of medical treatment. To our mind, a hospital can never be permitted to withhold the medical treatment details as well as bills from its consumer,” said the commission’s president Sanjiv Dutt Sharma in the orders uploaded on the commission’s website on September 24.
Satrajit, who had been treated for cardiac ailments at Chandan Hospital in May 2017, paid ₹1.50 lakh to the hospital as it was not empanelled with the insurance company issuing his policy.
In his complaint, Satrajit said after he sought claims from the insurance company the hospital did not give him detailed bills, because of which treatment costs could not be reimbursed.
The commission has directed the hospital to hand over medical bills, treatment chart and receipts of medicines administered to the patient within 30 days from the date of receipt of free certified copy of the order.
Compensation of ₹25,000
“Since the hospital have unnecessarily caused harassment (to) Satrajit, who is a heart patient, it is ordered that hospital will also compensate him with consolidated amount of compensation to the tune of ₹25,000 for mental harassment and litigation expenses,” the order read
As no one appeared before the commission on behalf of Chandan Hospital, the commission proceeded ex parte against it.
Commenting on the order, consumer rights activist Pankaj Chandgothia said, “A patient is the owner of his body and must have all records pertaining to its functioning. The hospital has been paid for its services and has no right to retain the records.”
Records of the treatment are necessary to inform doctors and hospitals about the patient’s condition should he or she require treatment again, he said.
“Even PGIMER does not give the entire records, but private hospitals have made it a practice of not handing over detailed reports and bills to patients to avoid being caught for charging for services not provided. People have to apply and get the information through Right to Information,” he said.
Advocate HC Arora too was of the opinion that it was the right of any person to access details of treatment. “Most hospitals fear litigation, but they have to provide the records for complete transparency,” he said.
Former president of the Indian Medical Association, Dr Rajesh Dhir also felt there should be no secrecy about the line of treatment and the patient should have complete access to the medical history. Most hospitals were giving the requisite information to patients, he added.