Don’t let hospital fleece patients, Bombay HC tells Maharashtra govt

Mumbai: Observing that hospitals are profiteering during the coronavirus pandemic, the Bombay High Court on Tuesday asked the Maharashtra government to ensure that Covid patients aren't "fleeced" by hospitals by charging exorbitant amounts for their treatments.

A bench of Chief Justice Dipankar Datta and Justice Sarang Kotwal ordered the government to spell out if it has any mechanism to regulate the charges of private hospitals. The judges were dealing with a plea filed by a man, who had admitted his mother in a hospital at Thane for Covid treatment. He claimed to have paid over Rs 70,000 for four days treatment. Similarly, there was another patient, who was charged around Rs 16,000 for PPE kits alone.

While hearing the matters, CJ Datta noted that usually, hospitals ask a patient to purchase a full box of hand gloves. "But not all the gloves in the box are used for that particular patient. We think the remaining gloves can be used for other patients," CJ Datta pointed out.

"Instead of using the gloves from the same box, hospitals ask other patients to purchase full boxes of gloves. Thus, we think hospitals might be profiting from the charges they are asking patients to pay for the treatment," CJ Datta observed.

The bench further opined that hospitals must avoid charging more than the procurement rates of PPE kits. "Our concern is that during the pandemic the patients should not be fleeced and thus, we deem it necessary that the government files its say in the matter," CJ Datta ordered. The matter would be taken up for hearing next week.

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