Chandigarh: No health facility, be it government or private, will be able to deny emergency life-saving medical treatment and critical care to anyone over inability to pay once the much-awaited Clinical Establishments Act comes into force in Punjab.
After dragging its feet over implementation of the law, which aims at regulating health faculties for ensuring minimum standards, the state government has finally, prepared a draft of the Clinical Establishments Act, Punjab 2019, and has sought comments from stakeholders within seven days before issuing a notification.
The Act mandates that every health centres will have to provide treatment to victims of road accidents, calamities, acid attack and rape survivors irrespective of their ability to pay for treatment at that point of time. In case of death, the health facilities will have to ensure that there is no delay in releasing the dead body of patients to their family members due to billing or other issues. The clinical establishments, however, have been given the right to recover the treatment cost in due course of time.
With no checks in place, a large number of private centres, at present, indulge in unethical profiteering and once the Act comes into force, it will safeguard the patients from being fleeced.
To ensure that the patients are not over charged, the health centres will be required to follow the fixed rates for different services — investigation, consultation, bed charges, intensive care, ventilation, implants and operation procedures — and have been barred from levying additional charges beyond the fixed rates. The final bills should not exceed estimates. The clinical establishments should discourage repetitive laboratory tests, unless essential.
These centres will also have to take consent from family members of brain death patients for continuation of ventilation support. The bigger health centres having more than 100 beds will be required to set up fair price medicine shop and diagnostic centre. The establishments which received land or other facility from the government will have to provide free treatment to 20% patients of outdoor patient department and 10% of indoor patients. Even private hospitals, which availed no benefit from government, will have to extend same benefit as part of their corporate social responsibility.
Each healthcare facility will be required to start e-prescription and maintaining electronic medical records. They will have to provide a set of all medical records and treatment details along with the discharge summary at the time of discharge to the patient.
Punjab health minister Balbir Singh Sidhu said that implementation of the Act will help the government in ensuring that all the health centres maintained minimum standards and provide quality treatment to people at fixed rates.
The the Clinical Establishments Act, Punjab 2019, makes registration must for all the health centres and will have to abide with the laid down norms for getting registration. Civil surgeons of respective district have been designated as the registering authorities for health facilities with 50 to 100 beds, while hospitals with more than 100 beds will be registered by director health services.
For implementation of the Act, the government will set up state council for clinical establishments comprising administrative secretary of health department, director health services, director of different recognised system of medicines and representatives of state Medical Council of India and the dental council. Those found running the centres without registration will be penalized from Rs 50,000 to Rs 5 lakh. In case of offence committed by government set up, erring officials will be punished.
Expressing displeasure, Dr Amandeep Aggarwal, said that implementation of the Act will sound death knell for the small set ups. “The government has prepared the draft without taking private doctors into confidence,” said Dr Aggarwal.
Acted on HC’s direction
The Punjab government has acted following direction from the Punjab and Haryana high court to register all the health centres, including drug rehabilitation, under the Clinical Establishment Act. Earlier, even after almost nine years of the enactment of the Clinical Establishments (Registration and Regulation) Act, by the Centre, Punjab was dragging its feet over implementing the law in the state.