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Hospital billing systems must be transparent, says Bombay high court

The bench was hearing petitions challenging practice by some hospitals of detaining patients or withholding dead bodies for recovery of dues

mumbai Updated: Dec 21, 2017 10:58 IST
Kanchan Chaudhari
Kanchan Chaudhari
Hindustan Times
Mumbai news,Mumbai high court,hospital bills
The Bombay high court on Wednesday said there would be fewer disputes with patients if hospitals gave a fair idea of maximum possible bills to the patient or his relatives. (HT File)

Stressing the need for transparency in billing system at hospitals, the Bombay high court (HC) on Wednesday said there would be fewer disputes with patients if hospitals gave a fair idea of maximum possible bills to the patient or his relatives.

“These frictions can be reduced substantially, if hospitals adopt a transparent system of billing,” said a division bench of Justice Naresh Patil and Justice Nitin Sambre.

“Today, it is uncertainty in the bills that is causing problems, and except in emergency cases, this can be reduced if hospitals give a fair idea of the likely bill to the patient or his relatives in advance,” the bench said, referring to incidents of hospitals detaining patients for failing to pay their dues.

The bench was hearing two petitions challenging a purported practice adopted by certain hospitals of detaining patients or withholding dead bodies for recovery of dues.

One of the petitioners, Kurla resident Trevor Britto, 54, alleged a hospital in Panvel refused to discharge an injured bus driver, Chandrakant Pawar, over recovery of disputed bills.

The other petition was filed by a Santacruz resident, alleging a hospital in Marol refused to discharge his brother for not paying Rs1.80 lakh.

The hospitals have refuted the allegations.

Responding to the petitions, the medical council of India (MCI) told the court it had no control over hospitals and clinics, although it regulates registered medical practitioners.

It has filed an affidavit stating the MCI Act is applicable only to registered medical practitioners and not to hospitals and clinics.

The Association of Medical Consultants, a body of doctors and small to medium hospitals and nursing homes, has filed an application maintaining that hospitals cannot detain patients for failure to pay dues, but at the same time some mechanism was required to ensure patients clear the dues.

First Published: Dec 20, 2017 23:59 IST