By Ashish Srivastava
New Delhi, Sep 15 | The Association of Healthcare Providers of India (AHPI) would likely challenge in court the Delhi government’s recent order where 33 private hospitals were directed to reserve 80 per cent of their total ICU bed capacity for COVID patients. The association expressed serious reservations against the latest order and called it “arbitrary in nature”.
Dr Girdhar J. Gyani, Director General, AHPI, said that the representations to reverse this order have already been made before Delhi Health Minister Satyendra Jain and Union Health Minister Harsh Vardhan.
“The order has been issued without any prior discussions with private hospitals to understand the current demand-supply situation of critical care beds. While we fully support the augmentation of infrastructure for treatment of COVID patients, ignoring the needs of other sicker patients requiring critical care and ICU management at these tertiary care facilities is gross injustice. We have already made representations to the Union and Delhi Health Ministry against the order and may even consider exploring legal options against it,” he added.
“This order needs to be challenged in court on the principle of natural justice. The order is arbitrary and taken without discussing with the hospitals. It covers all the major hospitals of Delhi and is tantamount to treating them as Covid hospitals,” stated Sanyam Khetrapal, legal advisor to the AHPI.
Dr Gyani also said that the order will not just expose non-COVID patients to the risk of COVID but also undermine the rights of other patients, who are in serious need of surgeries/other treatment, to access urgent healthcare.
“In view of the fact that private hospitals routinely get 20-30 per cent patients in their Emergencies involving strokes, heart attacks, grievous injuries, acute pulmonary disorders, complex fractures, and even other conditions like cancer, transplant and cardiac patients which require urgent interventions and critical care, reserving 80 per cent beds in the ICU, it will deny urgent care to seriously ill patients, requiring vital surgical interventions and critical care. All these patients will have to face prolonged waiting time (some resulting in loss of life) if ICUs are not available,” he said.
The AHPI also said that the situation may also result in ICU beds lying vacant for COVID patients while patients of other serious diseases will be left on their own. “Considering the percentage of COVID patients who require ICU admission, we can assume that non-COVID patients would be left suffering while ICU beds may lie vacant for the want of seriously sick COVID patients,” Dr Gyani said.
“As per government orders, 60-80 per cent of beds in hospital wards could be used for non-COVID patients, however, now there will be only 20 per cent of total ICU capacity available for these non-COVID patients. This will mean that for 20-40 per cent COVID patients in wards, hospitals will be expected to reserve 80 per cent of ICU beds,” he explained.
The AHPI also claimed that in the last two months, the non-COVID patients of cardiovascular disease, heart and lungs transplants, Oncology, Paediatrics etc needed admissions in ICU more than the COVID patients. “In one of the Super Speciality hospitals, of the total number of admissions, only 15 per cent were COVID positive and the rest were all related to other conditions during the months July to August. In other Tertiary and Quaternary Care Hospitals the numbers requiring admissions in surgical ICU stood at 1,605, during the period June to August,” the association stated.