Pune has among the highest rates of road accidents and in most cases the immediate response of witnesses are to rush the patient to the nearest hospital and often without considering the financial status of the victim and rightly so.
Most hospitals provide life-saving emergency care, but for everything beyond that, the patients are asked to pay first, or give an advance towards the treatment and settle at discharge. While this is highly debatable, a recent SC observation clears the air on this matter.
However, quite recently in a Supreme Court judgement the bench observed that members of the medical profession owe a constitutional duty to treat the have-nots and that they cannot refuse to treat a person who is in dire need of treatment by a particular medicine or by a particular expert merely on the ground that he is not in a position to afford the fee payable for such an opinion/ treatment.
Pune365 spoke to senior emergency medicine professionals and informed citizens on the ground reality at city hospitals.
Dr Ravi Pratap, Consultant & Head – Emergency Medicine and Emergency Medical Services, Ruby Hall Clinic, “In case of the emergency, there is no question of depositing the money, the initial life-saving measures are expected to be done in the Emergency Room and is mandatory for all the doctors across the country.”
However, There is a difference between life-saving surgery and emergency surgery, so as far as the emergency surgery goes, it totally depends on the doctor, yet, if it’s life saving then obviously, the doctor has to do it.
It also depends on the patient, they also need to fill a form but when there is an emergency, doctors are not really bothered about the whole process of deposit.
For us it is important to save that life.
The first and most important thing when the patient reaches the hospital is stabilizing him and giving him the necessary treatment.
Later if the person is willing to go ahead with the further treatment, he needs to pay, and if they decline or disagree, then they have to shift to other hospitals of their choice.
For example, if the person is having a head injury and a fracture. The doctor will give first aid him for the head injury first and later the fracture. The doctor may also perform a surgery if required even without the patient’s consent.
But if the surgery is needed for fracture, and the patient cant affords the surgery. The hospital will be providing him emergency treatment for the basic fracture and for surgery the patient will have to move to another hospital.
Something which is life-saving will always be the priority for doctors, but anything which is not life-saving, will not happen for free, Pratap added.
Dr Roshan Palresha, Emergency Medicine Specialist says, “As far as the treatment in dire emergencies is needed, every person has a right to get that and we do provide the first aid or the resuscitative measures needed.
Emergency treatment is always provided to such patients by the doctors, irrespective of the hospital finance policies.”
Further management post the emergency resuscitation will be carried out according to the respective hospital policy. So, I think its a good decision by the supreme court.
But again there are loopholes and people misuse the law.
If a regular patient who is not in dire need of treatment at that particular point, misuses it and turns around and asks why he is not an emergency etc So, every law has its own pros and cons.
Certain hospitals have strict policies regarding this, but I think every hospital has a provision for waiving payment for initial emergency treatment for such patients.
No sensible hospital will deny emergency care.
Further Dr Roshan added, “Since I am an emergency physician, I have to provide whatever emergency care is required, so I have never stopped any emergency care. Maybe, apart from emergencies. one has to go according to the hospital policies.”
I think both the police department and the health care providers should work hand in hand to reduce the number of accidents, making certain laws compulsory, like the use of helmets and seat belts, including other laws regarding drinking and driving.
A Doctors profession is known to be service to mankind, although nowadays it is completely vice versa, says Jennifer Varghese, Artist.
The doctors have the right to refuse the treatment for the patient if not an emergency and this should be restricted by law.
Nobody seeks a professional help unless needed, in any case, be it an emergency, or severe health issues, the treatment should not be denied by the doctor, Varghese added.
Sushant Jogewekar, software professional says, “If a person has to get operated for free, they better move to a government hospital.
Hospitals have a protocol to follow, they’ll never deny the basic medical care needed to save a life.”
Diksha Ranawde, PR executive says, “ I don’t think free treatment is appropriate in the name of service to mankind.
Doctors have always been helpful yet it also the hospitals policy which needs to be followed while treating the patient.
Whatever is shown in the movies on how the patient has to first deposit the money is not the reality. Patients are first assisted with the treatment and later come the formalities in an emergency.
It is absolutely appropriate, for doctors to charge first if the patient is brought to the hospital for some orthopaedic pain or some viral infection, Dikhsha added.
#All views expressed in this article are those of the individual respondents and Pune365 does not necessarily subscribe to them.