MP Kartikeya Sharma on Wednesday once again raised in Rajya Sabha the important issue concerned over refusal by hospitals to release dead bodies due to pending bills.
Member of Parliament Kartikeya Sharma on Wednesday once again raised in Rajya Sabha the important issue concerned over refusal by hospitals to release dead bodies due to pending bills.
Raising the issue during zero hour, MP Kartikeya Sharma said “There are umpteen saddening stories narrating the insensitive instances of refusal by a hospital to release the dead body to the family due to outstanding bills. The grief families already traumatised with the loss are subjected to further distress for immediate commercial recovery.”
Drawing the attention of the House towards the important issue, he further said that a report by the Lancet Commission on the value of death published in the year 2022 states that in situation where a family is unable to pay hospital medical bills, hospital staff will often refuse to release the body of the deceased until the payment is made.
The Geneva Convention and the UN Commission on Human Rights make it legally binding, provide for explicit Provisions relating to proper management, dignified treatment and disposal of dead bodies as well as respect for the need of the families.
The MP Sharma further stated “Earlier answering to my question the Honourable Minister informed the house that there is no such legal provision authorising any hospital to withhold dead bodies in the lieu of pending bills. Therefore I urge this August house to deliberate on the situation that will bring some relief to the mourning families. I also request the minister concerned to evaluate and issue guidelines for immediate release of the dead bodies and subsequent period for clearing the dues, suggestively penalties for the defaulting hospitals and that violate the said guidelines should also be incorporated for ensuring strict compliance.”
There is a growing consensus at International level that all patients must enjoy certain basic rights. In other words, the patient is entitled to certain amount of protection to be ensured by physicians, Healthcare Providers and the state, which have been codified in the various societies and countries in the form of Charters of Patients’ Rights. The Patient Rights Charter as approved by the National Council of Clinical Establishments is available in public domain and needs to be promoted in good Spirit, the MP said.
“Further, we can collectively implement a few steps spread awareness about the patient rights Charter and the rights that families of the disease have in such situations”, he added.
The Patient Rights Charter enlists 17 rights of patients including right to information whereby every patient has a right to adequate relevant information about the disease, right to record in reports, right to Emergency Medical Care, right to informed consent, the right to confidentiality, the right to second opinion, right to discharge of patients or receive the body of deceased from the hospital and more, he added.
Kartikeya Sharma further stated “Enforce hospitals to display the charter in important areas of the hospital so that accountability is held, treat violation of the charter with firm laws as non-release of dead bodies is treated akin to violations of ‘habeas corpus’, create a national helpline to assist mourning families in such unfortunate times and create a national corpus fund and more importantly let us sensitise hospitals, doctors and community so that they encourage and follow the patients’ rights Charter.”