A US-based doctor has lodged a complaint with the West Bengal Human Rights Commission (WBHRC) against a private hospital here after a patient died because the management allegedly stopped medication due to non-payment of dues.
Patrick Trackson, 57, died on Saturday at the Mission of Mercy Hospital. He had been admitted three days earlier on April 18 with diabetes, abdominal problem and cardiac ailments. His medical bill had reportedly exceeded Rs.24,000, which was far higher than the hospital's permissible limit of Rs.5,000.
The People for Better Treatment (PBT), India's largest patients' body fighting for medical rights spearheaded by Ohio-based NRI Kunal Saha, has sent a memorandum to both the office of the West Bengal Health Minister Surya Kanta Mishra and the WBHRC Chairperson Shyamal Sen condemning the action of the hospital authority.
PBT said the "dreadful action" adopted by the Mission of Mercy Hospital should be considered a "criminal" act since it has resulted in the loss of life of a hapless patient.
"We demand immediate investigation of this shocking incident by an independent body and suspension of licence of this private hospital," the statement said.
Since Patrick lived alone at his Picnic Garden residence in south Kolkata, his neighbours had raised Rs.2,000 and got him admitted to the intensive care unit of the hospital.
His death sparked a big controversy on whether any hospital management can stop providing medical services to a patient, even if his bills are not reimbursed.
The PBT memorandum said: "Chapters 1 and 2 of the MCI Act (Code of Medical Ethics) also mandate that no hospital or doctor can refuse treatment of a patient in urgent need of medical therapy."
It also demanded punishment of the hospital employees responsible for the incident and adequate financial compensation for Patrick's family.
PBT is an organisation of patients fighting against the malpractices in medical treatment. It was formed in the course of a huge legal battle waged by Kunal Saha, an AIDS vaccine researcher, after his wife Anuradha died of alleged wrongful treatment at a Kolkata hospital in May 1998.
The doctor's association of the Mission of Mercy Hospital has also voiced its protest against the "inhuman act" of the hospital management, which "withdrew life-saving medicines to Patrick who was in urgent need of medical therapy".
The association also submitted a memorandum to the hospital management demanding an immediate probe into the episode.