Kochi: In an interim direction given by the Kerala High Court, no coercive action will be taken against the private hospitals which do not get registered under Kerala Clinical Establishments (Registration and Regulation) Act, 2018.
This relief came in response to the petition filed by the Kerala Private Hospitals Association (KPHA) against specific provisions laid down in the act. The Act came into force from 1st January 2019. The association had challenged various provisions of the Act calling them arbitrary and violative of the Constitution
The Clinical Establishment Act, 2018 has been formed to provide for the registration and regulation of clinical establishments rendering services in recognised systems of medicine in the State and for matters connected therewith or incidental thereto.
The act covers clinical establishments to include a hospital, maternity home, nursing home, clinic, sanatorium or an institution, by whatever name called, that offers services, facilities with or without beds requiring treatment, diagnosis, or care for illness, injury, deformity, abnormality, dental care, pregnancy or infertility in any recognised system of medicine established and administered or maintained by any person or body of persons, whether incorporated or not. The Act calls for Mandatory registrations by all clinical establishments working in the state, otherwise they would be liable for penalties
Whoever carries on a clinical establishment without registration shall, for the first contravention, be liable to a monetary penalty which may extend to fifty thousand rupees, for the second contravention to a monetary penalty which may extend to two lakh rupees and for any subsequent contravention to a monetary penalty which may extend to five lakh rupees and in case of continuing contravention a monetary penalty of ten thousand rupees for every additional day the clinical establishment functions without registration subject to a maximum of five lakh rupees.
As the registration process began, KPHA challenged section 16 (2) and 39(2 and 3) of the act through the petition in the High Court.
- Section 16 (2) states, “No person shall run a clinical establishment unless it has been duly registered in accordance with the provisions of this Act and the rules made thereunder.”
- Section 39 (2) states “Every clinical establishment shall display, in a conspicuous place in the clinical establishment in Malayalam as well as in English the fee rate and package rate charged for each type of service provided and facilities available, for the information of the patients.”
- Section 39 (3) states “All clinical establishments in the State shall display package rates for specific procedures.”
The association called these provisions “impractical”. Since there are variations in the package rates of the treatment, therefore, there are no package rates available, the petition stated. Further it pointed out that certain confidential information, including details of all employees, including doctors and paramedical staff, apart form pre-determination of the package rates had to be provided while following up the registration form could not be provided by the hospitals
The petition demanded that three challenged provisions should be considered arbitrary as they violate right to equality and the right to carry on any occupation, trade or business.
In a conversation with Medical Dialogues, Hussain Koya Thangal, a member of KPHA, who filed the petition informed that more than 70 percent of the medical cases are dealt in private hospitals and thousands of staffs are working across the state. The amount of data in the hospitals is very huge. It is impossible to provide them to the government. He stated, “Since, the data are confidential, therefore it can not be given t o be displayed on the government’s website.”
“No private hospital would get register under the act unless their problems are solved,” he further added.
Based on the arguments provided by the association, the court passed an interim order giving the association members a temporary relief that stated
“There will be an interim direction that no coercive action shall be taken against the members of the 1ST petitioner Association on account of any infringement of the impugned provisions of the Act and the Rules.”