January 01, 2008

Hospitals should display treatment costs: Consumer Commission

Hospitals in the capital should display the cost of treatment for the patients to see and decide whether it is affordable to them, the Delhi Consumer Commission has observed.

Concerned over the spurt in consumer complaints accusing the hospitals of keeping them in dark about the expenses, the Commission has also asked the medical facilities to give a minimum estimate of treatment at the time of admission.

"The basic expenses for every disease and its treatment should have been displayed outside for the information of each and every patient so that he may at the time of admission know whether he has the capacity to get the treatment in such a hospital or nursing home or not," it said.

Noting the pamphlets often published by the hospitals served no purpose as far as a consumer's knowledge regarding the possible treatmet cost was concerned, the Commission's President Justice J D Kapoor said that in such cases, they may be asked to compensate for their "unfair trade practice".

"At the time of admission, at least minimum estimate has to be given to the patient in order to see whether he would like to get the treatment from the said hospital or not," the Commission noted in a recent decision.

In no way a patient should be put on treatment without being informed as to the minimum expenses to be incurred as any poor person, if put in ICU for long, would definitely suffer mental agony and physical discomfort if he does not know as to how much amount he has to shell out, it noted.

The Commission while observing that the hospitals put out the treatment cost, asked Shanti Mukund Hospital in East Delhi here to pay Rs 25,000 to Nathu Ram Bansal, who was treated for asthma but was not given an estimate of the medical expenses at the time of his admission.

According to the patient, he was never informed about the cost he had to incur on his treatment and the hospital had subsequently raised a hefty bill of over Rs one lakh.

Allowing the appeal of Bansal, a resident of Shahdara here, the Commission said that the hospital was liable to pay for its deficiency in service in not informing the charges of the treatment to him

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