Bombay HC declares detaining patients over unpaid bills as inhuman

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On Thursday, the Bombay High Court condemned the practice of private hospitals detaining patients over their unpaid bills are cleared, describing it as ‘inhuman’. A division bench of judges comprising Justices VM Kanade and PD Kode heard a petition filed by Sanjay Prajapati (25) seeking the orders of MIDC Police against the doctors and staff of Seven Seas hospital. Sanjay stated in the petition that his brother was wrongfully confined to the hospital over a dispute regarding medical bills. He further urged the court to order the police to discharge the patient and admit him to a suitable hospital for further treatment.

According to the petitioner, his brother was admitted to the Seven Seas Hospital on March 29, 2014 where he underwent an operation for receiving head injuries after a fall at home. Prajapati was dissatisfied with the medical care of the hospital and wrote a letter to the CEO claiming wrong treatment and bogus billing, but to no avail. He failed in his attempt to shift his brother to another hospital as the staff refused to discharge him on the condition of unpaid bills.

Diwakar Dwivedi, Prajapati’s advocate told the HC that INR 2.76 lakh was deposited out of a total bill of INR 4.56 lakh. According to the hospital, an additional balance of INR 1.80 lakh remained to be paid. The petitioner moved the court stating that the hospital cannot detain the patient on the ground of unpaid bills, receiving full support from the judges in the matter.

However, the hospital authorities denied the detention of the patient and assured that he was given the best care. Anand Garg, CEO, Prajapati Hospital said that the medical facility has given Prajapati a new lease of life and the family can take him out of the hospital whenever they wish to. Garg however admitted to the fact that there were some discrepancies in the initial bill which was soon sorted out.