Dark times ahead for Private Practice in Karnataka
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Dr. Humera Roohi
Via: PlexusMD
Dark times ahead for Private Practice in Karnataka
The Karnataka government on Tuesday tabled a bill titled 'Karnataka Private Medical Establishments (Amendment) Act, 2017', which empowers the state government to regulate private medical establishments. With a view to regulate the healthcare system in Karnataka, government had appointed a expert committee headed by former Chief Justice of Karnataka High Court Vikramajit Sen in July 2016. It submitted its report in April 2017 and suggested sweeping reforms like including government establishments within the act to maintain a uniform standard of healthcare. The final bill which amends the prior 'Karnataka Private Medical Establishments Act, 2007' includes some important amendments such as:

1. Every Private Medical Establishment to follow rates as fixed by the government and this includes package rates for investigation, bed charges, operation theatre procedures, intensive care, ventilation, implants, consultation and any additional treatments

- These rates will be fixed by the government on the basis on the opinion of an Expert Committee and will be different for different classes of private medical establishments

- The Bill also mandates private hospitals to provide a proper estimate for treatments not covered in fixed rates during initiation or due course of the treatment

2. Private hospitals will pay a fine of up to Rs 5 lakh and imprisonment up to three years if they collect charges higher than that fixed by the state government

3. Private hospitals cannot demand advance payment in case of emergency treatment. In case of death of a patient, hospitals will have to hand over the body of the deceased immediately without insisting on payment of dues. The dues can be recovered from representatives of the deceased at a later date

4. A Private Medical Diagnostic Laboratory must not be present within 200 meter radius of a Government Hospital

5. The bill also provides for constitution of a District or Metropolitan Grievance Redressal Committee for redressal of grievances of patients. The panel will be headed by the Chief Executive Officer of the Zilla Panchayat of the district and include the superintendent of police, one representative of private hospital, district surgeon, public prosecutor and woman representative nominated by the government as its members

- On receiving a complaint, the panel will have the powers to inspect the hospital, hold an enquiry and issue orders which will have to be followed within a specified time

6. The bill also has a schedule entitled “Patient’s charter and Establishment charter” which lists out the responsibilities of patients and hospitals

- According to the charter, every patient has a right to receive treatment, be heard by the doctor, get a prescription with an explanation on details of dosage, dos and don’ts, privacy during examination and confidentiality about the medical condition. Patients have the right to request access and receive a copy of their clinical records, expected cost of treatment, seek second opinion on medical condition, among others

- Patients’ responsibilities include being honest with the doctor, be punctual with appointments, do best to comply with doctor’s treatment plan, respect the doctors and medical staff. Hospital charter includes providing a printed schedule of fee for office visits, procedures, testing, surgery and provide itemized bills

Source - Karnataka Private Medical Establishment Bill, 2017