Friday, February 19, 2010

emergency medical aid now legally binding on Doctors & hospitals

The legislation "makes it mandatory to provide, stabilise and treat emergency medical conditions for doctors, hospitals and medical establishments.

Published on 01/29/2010 - 09:50:24 AM

New Delhi: The cabinet approved path-breaking legislation making it mandatory for doctors, hospitals and other medical  establishments to treat victims of road accidents and other emergencies and not turn away patients on specious pleas, official sources said.

The legislation "makes it mandatory to provide, stabilise and treat emergency medical conditions", official sources said of The Clinical Establishments (Registration and Regulation) Bill, 2010, that the cabinet cleared at a meeting presided over by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, reports IANS.

Once parliament passes the bill, doctors and hospitals will not be able to turn away victims of road accidents and other emergencies on the plea that these are "medico-legal cases" which they are not authorised to treat, the sources pointed out.

The Bill will apply to all clinical establishments, including those with a single doctor and without any beds, the sources added.

"The main purpose of the law is to provide a legislative framework for the registration and regulation of clinical establishments in the country and also to improve the quality of health services through the National Council for Standards by prescribing minimum standards of facilities and services which may be provided by them," Information and Broadcasting Minister Ambika Soni told reporters after the cabinet meeting.

"This would permit categorisation and classification of different clinical establishments depending on their geographical location as well as services offered. It will also initiate the process for the creation of a national registry of clinical establishments existing in the country," she added.

"The Bill will ensure elimination of fraudulent practices or taking patients for a ride," Soni said.

The Bill, which will apply to all systems of medicine, including allopathy and AYUSH, is likely to be tabled in the Budget Session of Parliament beginning February 22. It, however, doesn't apply to the Armed Forces Medical Service "since they have their own set patterns in place", the sources said.

Once approved by Parliament, the Bill will be initially applicable in Arunachal Pradesh, Himachal Pradesh, Mizoram, Sikkim and all the Union Territories.

"It is expected that other states would also adopt this legislation," Soni said.

It was pointed out that while some states, among them Maharashtra, Orissa, Manipur, Andhra Pradesh, Nagaland, Punjab and Delhi, had passed similar legislation, "there was much to be desired by way of implementation.

"Stake-holders also pointed to the need for national levels of standards and hence this bill," official sources said.

The Bill, which the cabinet initially approved in June 2007, was tabled in Parliament in August of that year and referred to the Standing Committee on Health. The committee made 60 recommendations, of which 36 have been incorporated in the Bill.

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