Not disclosing treatment costs is "unfair trade practice": Delhi Consumer Commission

Saying that pamphlets published by hospitals that did not inform consumers on the possible treatment cost amounted to an "unfair trade practice" and such medical establishments could be held liable to compensate patients, the Delhi Consumer commission has ruled.

Allowing the appeal of a Delhi resident who was asked to pay Rs1 lakh for being treated for asthma, the commission ordered the hospital in East Delhi to pay compensate Rs25,000 to a patient who said he was never informed about the cost he had to incur for being treated.

Moreover, the commission has also asked hospitals and nursing homes in the capital to display the cost of treatment for patients to decide whether they can afford the treatment.

The commission's president Justice J D Kapoor ruled that a minimum estimate of the treatment should be given to patients at the time of their admission in order to enable them to decide whether they would like to be treated at that particular hospital establishment.

Taking cognisance of consumer complaints of hospitals not providing the details of medical expenses incurred by patients, the commission asked hospital establishments to provide a minimum estimate of the treatment cost at the time of admission.

Justice Kapoor said that the basic expenses for every disease and its treatment should be displayed outside for the information of each and every patient who may, at the time of admission, be aware whether they have the capacity to be treated at the particular hospital or nursing home.

He said admitting patients without informing them about the minimum expenses causes mental agony and physical discomfort, especially for the poor, particularly where treatment in an ICU was involved, without informing them the amount they would be made to pay.