Denied Dialysis Over COVID-19 Report? Here’s Your Legal Recourse

Most private hospitals, dialysis centres demand a COVID-19 report defying government directives.

3 min read

Video Editor: Veeru Krishan Mohan

Denied dialysis by over 6 hospitals, 15-year-old Pawan Maddiboina breathed his last on 16 May. Navi Mumbai resident Pawan, was turned away from the hospital he regularly visited for dialysis in Sanpada on 29 April after he developed a fever. On 3 May, Pawan tested positive for COVID-19. His family had him admitted to KEM Hospital the very next day.

Less than a week later, Pawan was once again tested for COVID-19 and this time he tested negative. But his family’s woes began once the 15-year-old was discharged from KEM hospital. At least 6 other hospitals refused to provide him dialysis. All of them wanted a third COVID-19 report that showed him testing negative for the virus.

“My husband begged the doctor to provide dialysis to our son. We just wanted one dialysis, we would have arranged for the ones after that. But they kept insisting, get another (COVID-19) test, one more test.”
Sushila Maddiboina, Pawan’s mother 

Pawan’s uncle, Shridhar, added, “His parents went to around 10 different hospitals and despite telling them that he tested negative twice, the hospitals were not ready to listen. They asked for another COVID test, but we know that the report are released after 5-6 days. If the child did not receive treatment within two days, he could die and that is exactly what happened. It was the hospital’s negligence. Who is answerable for this?”

What is the Legal Recourse?

Many private hospitals and dialysis centres in and around Mumbai have been refusing to provide dialysis to patients without a COVID-19 report. This directly defies government’s directives that only asks dialysis patients be screened for the infection before procedure. Patients are not required to produce a COVID-19 test report every time they opt for dialysis.

Patients like Pawan who are turned away such hospitals have a legal recourse. More specifically, three legal recourses, says Advocate Vijay M Thorat.

“They can approach the Maharashtra Medical Council because this is professional misconduct within the rules framed under the Maharashtra Medical Council Act, if the MMC receives this type of complaint, the call for an explanation from the doctors and after hearing the parties, the registration, that is license of doctor to practice can be cancelled.”
Advocate Vijay M Thorat 

The patient’s second recourse, he says, is to make an application to the state of Maharashtra and/or the BMC in the corporation area for cancellation of the registration of the hospital which has refused treatment. He further added,

“The third recourse available to such patients is to approach the court for law for compensation if there’s inaction by the dialysis centres. If there are complications to their health, for such complications, they can approach the court and seek compensation from the doctors refusing them treatment.”
Advocate Vijay M Thorat 

There is, however, a flipside to this legal and moral dilemma, as Dr Archana Sabnis points out.

“Think of the position where the COVID positive patient is offered dialysis in a non COVID hospital. The dialysis machine has to be put off work for the next 24 hours, so the patients waiting for dialysis will not avail this facility for another 24 hours. Plus, the hospital staff along with other patients will suffer. They are at high risk of contracting COVID-19.”
Dr Archana Sabnis, MGP, President, Mulund Vibhag and Head of Legal cell 

But, it’s hard to think of the greater good when your loved one’s life hangs in the balance.

“If he underwent one dialysis, my son would have survived today. My son kept telling me, ‘don’t worry, I’ll just get my dialysis and be back. I will be fine,’ my son was so hopeful,” said Pawan’s mother as she broke down mourning the loss of her son.

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