Kathmandu, August 16
The Supreme Court today issued an interim order telling the government to ensure that no hospital or health centre deprived anybody of medical care.
A single bench of Justice Deepak Kumar Karki issued the order in response to a writ petition filed by Advocate Sunil Kumar Patel against the Office of the Prime Minister and Council of Ministers. The petitioner has demanded investigation into the death of some patients in Birgunj area due to hospitals’ refusal to provide medical care to them.
The petitioner has stated that Chaliltar Mahato, 60, Bishnu Lama, 20, and Sharada Devi Rauniyar died due to Birgunj hospitals’ refusal to provide emergency medical care to them.
The apex court observed that as per Article 35 of the constitution and Section 4 of the Public Health Act, hospitals could not refuse to provide emergency medical care to anybody. It is the right of a citizen to get medical treatment when they are sick and it is the duty of the hospitals or health centres to treat patients in need of medical care, the SC observed.
The apex court added that hospitals could not escape from their responsibility of providing medical treatment to patients just because they did not undergo COVID tests. People suffering from other illnesses also have the right to get medical treatment, the SC observed. The court also issued show cause notice to defendants.
Section 4 of the Public Health Act stipulates that health centres cannot deny emergency services to anyone and if they do that, they will be deemed to have violated the act.
Petitioner Patel also demanded probe and prosecution under criminal procedure code against hospitals, health centres and health professionals who allegedly denied emergency services to patients. Patel told THT that he had stated in his writ petition that refusing emergency medical care to patients in need of such care was a crime of Homicide by Negligence under Section 181 of the Criminal Code.
A version of this article appears in e-paper on August 1, 2020, of The Himalayan Times.