Saturday, 4 June 2022

Law Relating To Emergency Medical Aid To Citizens In India

 The present situation of Covid-19 Pandemic in India and response of emergency medical services has led

me to try and find out how law can help in providing emergency medical care to patients in future. We

have been witnessing how patients are being refused admission in hospitals despite advised by the

doctor to be hospitalised as they are in critical condition requiring immediate medical attention and

critical care, Thousands of persons have died due to lack of ICU beds and oxygen.

It was the utmost duty of elected government to provide medical aid to its citizens and by not providing

adequate medical aid the valuable right to life as enshrined in our constitution has been violated by

government. It is fundamental right of every citizen under Article 21 of Constitution of India, that no

person can be deprived of his life and personal liberty except according to procedure established by law.

However denying a person in need of immediate medical attention/critical care is nothing but violating

his right to life. To my mind Government is directly responsible for causing death of a person, for failure

to provide adequate medical care.

This leads us to another question, whether Indian government has created any data base of hospitals

and Nursing homes having Intensive Care Units and number of ICU beds in each of them? Whether any

survey has ever been conducted to understand how many critical care hospitals and Intensive Care beds

are required in India proportionate to population in particular states?

If answers to these questions are in affirmative, than another question arise as to what action has been

initiated by government to provide adequate intensive Care Units in each state. It is not only ICU beds

but in case of infectious disease more particularly Air borne infection such as Covid-19, ICU beds in

Negative-pressure isolation room are required. The purpose of negative-pressure room is to confine

pathogens to a single closed environment with direct exhaust of air from the room thereby preventing

the release of patient generated pathogens in to adjacent spaces.

I have not come across any national Health Care Policy implemented by Government of India.Now

coming to law on the subject of providing emergency medical care to a patient. The Hon�ble Supreme

Court of India in case titled as Pt. Paramanand Katara v/s Union of India & others,1989(4) SCC286, for

the first time dealt with the issue of providing medical care to a patient in emergency. It was held by the

apex court that medical aid to an injured person to preserve his life is the obligation of state as well as

doctors. The said case was relating to accident victims who were refused primary medical aid by

hospitals being medico-legal case.

Thereafter another landmark judgment was passed by Hon�ble Supreme Court in case titled as Paschim

Bengal Khet Mazdoor Samiti & others versus State of West Bengal & Another,1996 SCC(4)37. This was a

case where one labourer suffered brain haemorrhage after falling from train. He was taken to Primary

Health Centre, since necessary facilities for treatment were not available at the Primary health Centre,

he was referred by medical officer to nearby Government hospital for better treatment.

The injured Labourer was taken to another hospital where his X-Ray was done and was required to be

admitted immediately for treatment of skull injury. However he was not admitted in the said hospital

due to lack of bed in emergency. The injured was then taken to another hospital in Calcutta but was not

admitted due to lack of bed in hospital. Aggrieved of being denied admission in hospitals for lack of bed

and callous attitude on the part of medical authorities at the various state run hospitals, he filed writ

petition before Hon�ble Supreme Court of India.

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