Provide helpline for patients’ complaints, says court
While observing that Bengaluru Urban was one of the worst-affected districts in the country in terms of Covid infections, the High Court on Tuesday expressed its dissatisfaction with the fact that no efforts are being made to monitor private Covid-treating hospitals in the city.
Commenting on a report submitted by BBMP, a division bench of Chief Justice Abhay Oka and Justice Aravind Kumar said there appeared to be “no effort” made by the BBMP monitoring committee to look into the functioning of private Covid-treating hospitals. While observing that the most number of such hospitals would be in Bengaluru, the bench noted, “There is nothing placed on record to show that the BBMP committee has inspected any of the private hospitals.”
On the Covid case tally, the bench observed that Karnataka was the second most affected state in the country and that, moreover, Bengaluru Urban was perhaps one of the worst- affected districts in the entire country.
In connection with the reports submitted by district committees, the court observed that a perusal of some of these reports showed that “barring a few exceptions, a very casual exercise appears to have been undertaken for the inspection of Covid-19 hospitals.”
Pat for health staff
It stressed that its intention in directing regular inspection of Covid hospitals in the state was not to find fault with health staff whose services “must be appreciated”, but to ensure that hospitals are well-equipped so that doctors and other staff could discharge their duties better. The bench said, “The second reason why we have directed constant monitoring of facilities, food, etc. in Covid-19 hospitals is that once a person infected with Covid-19 is admitted to such hospitals, his contact with his family members becomes minimum. Therefore, even if such a person is suffering due to lack of amenities in Covid hospitals, he is not in a position to make a complaint.”
The bench directed the government to consider providing a helpline for patients or relatives to complain to the authorities in case of poor treatment or facilities. The court stressed that the government should set up a mechanism to constantly monitor conditions in Covid hospitals in the state.
Is oxygen supply equitable?
In response to its query on how the Central directive on regulating the price of oxygen supplied to hospitals was being implemented, the government had said the daily requirement of medical oxygen for Covid cases was 235.36 tonnes while the actual availability was 374 tonnes. Not satisfied with this response, the bench said, “The issue is of proper and equitable distribution and supply of oxygen. Merely stating that adequate supply of oxygen is available in Bengaluru is not sufficient. The question is whether hospitals in the state treating Covid-19 patients are receiving an adequate supply of oxygen.” The court directed the state government to furnish a response within a week. It added that the government would also have to detail the steps taken to ensure adequate oxygen supply to hospitals in the rural and remote areas of Karnataka.