The West Bengal Clinical Establishment Regulatory Commission has directed a private hospital in Kolkata to deposit ₹10 lakh after a Covid-19 patient died on August 10. The hospital had refused to admit her if her family members did not deposit an initial sum of ₹3 lakh.
“Ideally, the hospital’s license should have been cancelled for this. But since many patients were still being treated and there are no other allegations of negligence, we didn’t want to take such a step. We have directed the hospital to deposit ₹10 lakh while the case is being heard,” said retired judge Ashim Kumar Banerjee, the chairman of the commission.
The commission has barred the hospital from taking any advance deposit while admitting Covid-19 patients, he added.
The 60-year-old woman died on August 10, allegedly while waiting in an ambulance outside the private hospital in east Kolkata. Her son said that the hospital demanded ₹3 lakh as an advance payment, without which they wouldn’t admit her. While the family took an hour to arrange the money, the woman died.
“This is the first case in which the commission took suo moto cognizance. It was inhuman and very unfortunate,” said Banerjee.
The commission had earlier put a cap on the advance payment demanded by private hospitals in the state. It had said that private hospitals could not charge patients over 20% of the estimated cost of treatment or a maximum of ₹50,000 at the time of admission.
In a separate case, the commission recommended that the license of another private hospital be cancelled as it had declined to pay ₹2 lakh to a complainant. The commission had awarded a compensation of ₹3 lakh to the complainant about a year ago. The hospital only paid ₹1 lakh.