The High Court on Tuesday issued September 9 fresh deadline for the framing of guidelines on operation of private hospitals, clinics and diagnostic centres as well as government doctors’ private practice.
The online bench of Justice JBM Hassan and Justice Md Khairul Alam also gave the Directorate General of Health Services director general fresh time until September 9 to revise all fees for health services, including medical tests and operation, at private hospitals, clinics and diagnostic centres.
Reminding its order issued on July 24, 2018 asking the government to open ICU and CCU units in all district-level hospitals, the court said that had the government hospitals had ICU and CCU facilities in place so many people might not have died of COVID-19.
The bench extended the deadline as the health secretary, the health services director general and the Bangladesh Medical and Dental Council failed to meet the deadline extended time and again.
In the July 24, 2018 verdict, the court asked the government to enforce the order to hang the chart of fees for medical tests and the guidelines at all private health facilities by October 7, 2018.
The High Court had issued the directive after hearing a public interest litigation.
Petitioner’s lawyer Bashir Ahmed told the court that the health ministry and the health services director general had been seeking times for last two years in the name of forming committees for implementing the orders.
He argued that the government had done nothing to implement the directives in the past two years although Medical Practice and Private Clinics and Laboratories (Regulation) Ordinance 1982 stipulated for the framing of the guidelines and the exhibition of the price chart.
He said that the government had also flouted the directives issued on July 24, 2018 to open ICUs and CCUs at all district hospitals.
Bashir told New Age that he would file a contempt petition against the respondents if they failed to meet the fresh deadline.
He said that the writ petition was filed seeking court directive to frame guidelines for running private hospitals and clinics as their doctors, nurses and employees were frequently called strike when the government took action against them for wrong treatment and other irregularities.
The petitioner argued that patients across the country were helpless as doctors and private hospitals and clinics were charging fees at their whims in absence of any law, guideline or regulation to regulate the fees of doctors in private medical practice.
Bashir Ahmed said that different private hospitals and diagnostic centres were charging varying fees for medical test and operation as there was no revise of the surgical operation chart price since 1982.
According to the 1982 chart, Tk 2,000 was fixed as maximum charge for major operations, such as cholecystectomy, partial gastrectomy and caesarian section.
The operation room charge was Tk 600 and anaesthesia charge was Tk 800.
Private hospitals were charging fees arbitrarily as the original 1982 ordinance had stipulated provisions for fixing or revising the fees of medical tests and operation as the provisions were dropped by an amendment to the ordinance in 1984 in the face of protests from the doctors.
The lawyer said that surgeons at private 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 1.25 lakh for a minor operation and about Tk 5 lakh for a major operation like bypass surgery.