Hospital taken to laundry by law for ‘dominating’ patient’s will

  • Posted on: June 01, 2019

Hospitals and Nursing Homes must clearly indicate charges, including the exclusions, for various services and must adhere to them. They ought to be extra careful when offering a package to patients and must ensure that they do not deviate from what is offered.

A pregnant patient was taken by her husband to the hospital for delivery where they were informed about a package treatment of maternity cases which would cost INR 26,500 to INR 46,500 inclusive all charges of operation theatre, room rent, anaesthesia, cost of medicine, excluding the surgeon’s fees, cost of investigation and medicine used after delivery.

The couple agreed to the terms and charges, the mother delivered a healthy child and was discharged three days later. The new parents’ happiness however was marred when they received the hospital’s bill. While the patient had opted for a cashless facility, she was informed that she could either opt for cashless facility or the package offered earlier, not both!

Not wanting to spoil the joy of being a parent any further then it had already been, the couple cleared the bill and left the hospital, but soon approached the Court and sued them for their discrepancies and indulging in unfair trade practice.

The hospital, expectedly, put up a defiant stance as they said that the patient was billed as per services rendered and there was no question of unfair trade practice.

The Commission did not agree to the hospital as the evidence indicated otherwise, and stated the following: “The package document signed by the patient does not distinguish the cashless facility or the package facility rather it is clear that in all surgical operations / packages full advance deposit was mandatory. Moreover, signatures were obtained against tick marks put in the form which presupposes that such signatures were obtained by the hospital authority without properly explaining the same or without making him understand the consequence of the condition rather there are reasons to believe that his signatures were obtained in such a situation when he was in a perplexed condition of mind due to the sufferings of his wife and at the time when he was getting his wife admitted in the hospital for delivery. In such a condition, the hospital authority was in a position to dominate the will of the patient’s husband”.

Making these scathing remarks, the hospital was ordered to reimburse extra amount that was billed. A compensation was also slapped on the hospital.

Source: Order pronounced by State Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission, West Bengal on 26th March, 2019