Hospitals cannot refuse to handover dead patients to relatives for unpaid bills in Bangladesh

The High Court has ruled that hospitals cannot refuse to hand over dead patients to their relatives over unpaid hospital bills and medical costs.

The court has also ordered the formation of a fund to help poor and destitute patients.

The High Court made the ruling on Monday based on several media reports it had taken into consideration five years ago.

In June 2012 a poor family admitted their child to Mohammadpur City Hospital and paid Tk 15,000, petitioning attorney Manzil Morshed told the media after the hearing.

The child died a few days later while in the hospital’s care. The hospital authority charged the family Tk 26,000 more for the child’s care. The child’s body would not be released to them unless the bills were paid, it said.

Rights organisation Human Rights and Peace for Bangladesh filed a petition with the court after a national daily published a report on the incident on Jun 8, 2012. The decision on Monday settled the petition.

The court’s decision says:

  1. No clinic or hospital can hold a dead patient hostage due to an inability to pay medical costs.
  2. A fund to support poor patients who cannot pay their hospital and medical bills must be formed by the health secretary and the director general of the health department.
  3. A circular including the first instruction must be issued by the Health Ministry without delay and it must ensure that reaches every licensed clinic and hospital in the country.
  4. The hospital will have to donate Tk 5,000 to the Anjuman Mufidul Islam welfare association for its inhumanity and violation of human rights in failing to turn over the body to the family.

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This article has been posted by a News Hour Correspondent. For queries, please contact through [email protected]

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