India MP calls for action as hospitals withhold deceased patients’ bodies over unpaid bills News
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India MP calls for action as hospitals withhold deceased patients’ bodies over unpaid bills

Indian Aam Aadmi Party MP Sanjeev Arora Saturday called for adherence to the Charter of Patients’ Rights as deceased patients’ bodies continue to be “held hostage” by hospitals.

In a statement to the Indian Express, the MP and a member of the parliamentary ad hoc committee on health and family welfare said that deceased persons were still being withheld at hospitals if their hospital bills were unpaid, in contravention of the Charter.

The matter was recently raised in a Rajya Sabha session, where Union Minister of State for Health and Family Welfare Dr. Bharati Pravin Pawar reiterated that Article 15 of the Charter states that the release of a deceased patient’s body cannot be denied by hospitals for any reason. She stated that the state and Union Territory governments must take appropriate steps to protect the family of deceased patients from exploitation.

“The adoption, implementation and monitoring of the provisions of the Patients’ Rights Charter is within the remit of the respective state and UT government,” Pawar said.

Arora said he would ask district administrations to ensure that the Charter is clearly displayed in all hospitals across the state, and that patients are informed of their rights.

“I advise the administration of all districts to ensure that all citizens are aware of this right and severe action is taken against violators,” Arora said.

Article 15 of the Charter states, “caretakers have the right to the dead body of a patient who has been treated in a hospital and the dead body cannot be detailed on procedural grounds, including nonpayment/dispute regarding payment of hospital charges against the wishes of the caretakers.” Similarly, hospital management has a duty not to wrongfully confine the body of a deceased patient who was treated in the hospital under any circumstances.

The Charter adopts the principles of fundamental dignity and equality of all human beings under the UN’s Universal Declaration of Human Rights and outlines the rights of patients receiving medical treatment and care.