The High Court Division on Tuesday directed the government to ask private hospitals, clinics and diagnostic centers to display price charts of medical tests, fees and operation fees in public view within 15 days.
The court also directed the government to constitute an experts committee within 60 days for framing the rules for regulating private hospitals, clinics and diagnostic centres and to fix uniform fees and charges for them as stipulated by the Medical Practice and Private Clinics and Laboratories (Regulation) Ordinance 1982.
The court directives requires shaping the rules for regulating doctors’ fees, the charges for surgical operations and diagnostic tests.
The court asked the health ministry secretary, the Health Services’ director general and the Bangladesh Medical and Dental Council to submit a progress report to it at the next hearing on October 7.
A bench of Justice JBM Hassan and Justice Md Khairul Alam issued the directives after hearing public interest litigation writ petition of Human Rights Lawyers and Securing Environment Society of Bangladesh.
The writ petition sought directives from the court to stop frequent country-wide strikes calling by doctors, nurses and employees of private hospitals, clinics and diagnostic centers whenever the government tried to take action against them for wrong treatment and other irregularities.
The petitioner submitted that patients feel helpless as doctors and private hospitals and clinics were charging fees at their sweet will in the absence of any law, guidelines or regulatory mechanism in place.
The bench in another ruling directed the authorities to explain in four weeks why they would not be directed to frame a health policy and rules under the Medical Practice and Private Clinics and Laboratories (Regulation) Ordinance 1982 for monitoring and regulating granting of licenses for opening private hospitals, clinics, diagnostic centers and laboratories.
The ruling also require the respondents to explain why they would not be directed to frame rules under the sections 15 and 16 of the ordinance to regulate the private medical practices, rescheduling of price charges of medical test and running private hospitals, clinics and diagnostic centers.
The court in the ruling also asked the authorities to explain why they would not be directed to take step for opening ICU and CCU units at all government hospitals at district towns.
In the ruling the court asked the authorities to explain why they would not be directed to make it mandatory to obtain license for establishing private hospitals, diagnostic centers, clinics and laboratories.
The respondents are the health secretary, Health Services’ DG, BMDC, the inspector general of police and Rapid Action Battalion director general.
Writ petitioner’s lawyer Bashir Ahmed submitted that the chart prepared in 1982 showing various fees and charges were not been revised since.
According to the chart, Tk 2,000 was fixed as the maximum charge for major operations like Cholecystectomy, partial gastrectomy, caesarian section, etc.
The OT charge was fixed at Tk 600 and Anaesthesia charge at Tk 800.
Health experts said that private hospitals now arbitrarily charge exorbitant fees and charges after the government dropped the provisions for fixing or revising the fees and charges by amending the ordinance in 1984 in the face of doctors agitations.
Petitioner’s lawyer submitted that surgeons of private hospitals and clinics usually charge Tk 15,000 to Tk 30,000 for a minor operation like appendectomy or delivery while reputed hospitals like Square Hospitals charges about Tk 125,000 for a minor operation and about Tk 500,000 for a major operation like bypass surgery.
On July 8, owners of private hospitals and clinics in Chittagong began an indefinite strike causing suffering to critical patients after a RAB mobile court jailed owners of several private hospitals and fined their hospitals finding date expired medicines and instrument at their OTs and running hospitals illegally without obtaining licenses.
The drive jointly conducted by the RAB and the Health Services after a two-year girl Raifa Khan, daughter of journalist Rubel Khan died for medical negligence at Max Hospital in the port city of Chittagong.
Three probe committees were formed which identified carelessness of doctors and medical negligence behind Raifa’s death.
Advocate Bashir Ahmed appeared for the writ petitioner and deputy attorney general Masud Hasan Chowdhury for the state.
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