West Bengal Clinical Establishments Act Passed

The Legislative Assembly of West Bengal passed the West Bengal Clinical Establishments (Registration, Regulation and Transparency) Bill, 2017.

The legislation repealed the West Bengal Clinical Establishments (Registration and Regulation) Act, 2010, passed by the Left Front government.

The legislation is aimed at bringing transparency, ending harassment of patients and checking medical negligence at private hospitals and nursing homes.

The Bill also seeks to bring clinics, dispensaries and polyclinics under its ambit.

The West Bengal Clinical Establishment Regulatory Commission, provisions for which exist in the Bill, will be set up in a month.

The West Bengal Clinical Establishments (Registration, Regulation and Transparency) Act, 2017 contains stringent norms for the functioning of hospitals and proposes hefty penalties for possible lapses.

Main Provisions of the Act:

The Bill defines “clinical establishment” means the whole or part of institution, facility with or without bed or beds, building or premises of any Hospital, Maternity Home, Nursing Home, Dispensary, Clinic, Polyclinic, Immunization or Vaccination Centre, Sanatorium, Physical Therapy Establishment, Clinical Laboratory, Fertility Regulation Clinic, Wellness Clinic or an establishment analogous to any of them by whatever name called, used or intended to be used for the health care related services established and administered or maintained by any person or body of persons, whether incorporated or not; and shall include—

(i) a clinical establishment for profit or not for profit, owned, controlled or managed by,—

(a) a trust, whether public or private;

(b) a Corporation (including a co-operative society), not owned by the Government, registered under a Central Act, or State Act; and

(ii) a single doctor establishment or medical clinic.

Clinical establishments must…

♦ Treat accident, acid attack and rape victims even if they cannot pay for treatment immediately. The hospital would have the right to recover the cost of treatment “in due course”.

♦ Release the body of a patient even if the bill for treatment has not been paid.

♦ Maintain grievance cells for patients and their kin to accept complaints about treatment, billing and staff behaviour.

♦ Set up a help desk each to ensure proper communication with patients.

♦ Implement the e-prescription system, maintain medical records electronically and provide a copy each of all medical records and treatment details at the time of a patient’s discharge.

♦ Follow “fixed rates and charges, including the package rates for investigation, bed charges, operating theatre procedures, intensive care, ventilation, implants, consultation and similar tests and procedures”. Any additional treatment or procedure shall not attract additional charges “over and above the fixed rates and charges, including the package rates”.

♦ Provide proper estimate of cost of treatment “not covered in fixed rates and charges, including the package rates”. The final bill cannot exceed the estimate by more than a percentage fixed by the government.

♦ “Endeavour” to set up fair-price medicine shops and diagnostic centres if it has more than 100 beds.

♦ Provide “completely free treatment” to 20 per cent of the patients in the outpatient departments and 10 per cent of admitted patients if the hospital has taken land or other help from the government.

If a hospital violates these norms…

♦ Penalty up to Rs 50,000 will be slapped if the violation results in “minor deficiencies” that do not pose imminent danger to people’s health and safety and can be rectified within a reasonable time.

♦ Penalty up to Rs 10 lakh if the violation results in “major deficiencies”.

♦ Penalty of Rs 50,000 for any other violation the first time and Rs 1 lakh for subsequent cases.

If lapse or negligence results in injury or death…

♦ he hospital must pay the victim or his legal representative a) up to Rs 3 lakh for simple injury; b) up to Rs 5 lakh for grievous injury and c) at least Rs 10 lakh for death. The compensation for an injury has to be paid within six months of the incident. In the event of death, interim relief must be paid to the next of kin within 30 days.

♦ The name, place of residence, offence and penalty could be published in newspapers at the guilty party’s own expense or publicised in some other manner.