Special monitoring cells of the Directorate of National Consumers Rights Protection will monitor hospitals – in the wake of complaints that physicians at some hospitals are not treating patients suspected of having Covid-19.
Five teams have been formed – led by its Dhaka office deputy director Monzur Mohammad Shahriar.
The team members visited some public and private hospitals in Dhaka on Saturday. They will visit other areas in the country in coordination with divisional level officers and law enforcement agencies.
A monitoring team, on Saturday, visited Square Hospital, Lab Aid, Shamorita, BRB, Green Life, Comfort, and Anwar Khan Modern Hospital as a preliminary step. They observed if the hospitals were properly providing treatment for patients – especially if patients exhibiting cold, cough and fever symptoms were admitted.
They also monitored doctors' attendance. Along with providing other directions, they asked for a list of doctors who did not regularly come to the hospital.
Many physicians are allegedly not going near patients who have a cold, cough, and fever. The media has reported some deaths of individuals who died after having been refused treatment.
The directorate sources said there was no specific law to take action against guilty individuals so they will ask the department or ministry concerned to take action against those not performing their duties.
Meanwhile, once informed about the allegations, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, on Wednesday, called on doctor leaders and directed them to ensure the necessary treatment for patients.
Yet, many patients are allegedly being deprived of the required treatment.
"We have come to know from print and digital media that doctors are not treating patients, and we have also heard of some deaths due to negligence," said Monzur Mohammad Shahriar.
"The general public is not receiving proper treatment even after spending money – which is unexpected and a form of cheating. Many people have been victims of misbehaviour by hospital staff. For these reasons, they will monitor public and private hospitals to ensure patients are not harassed," he added.
While visiting hospitals, the monitoring teams will talk to the patients and their relatives to know if they have faced any problems in obtaining treatment. Upon receiving complaints, they will talk to the doctors concerned.
If the complaints are proven true the team will send the doctor's name to the department or ministry concerned recommending proper action be taken against the individual.
Additionally, a patient can call 16121, the hotline of the Directorate of National Consumers' Right Protection, if a hospital refuses to provide treatment.
According to section 52 of Consumer Protection Law 2009, no one is allowed to do anything that causes harm to a consumer or his life. Anyone violating the rule can be sentenced to three years of imprisonment, handed a Tk2 lakh fine, or both. According to section 53 of the law, if anyone is found negligent, or not careful, in performing their duties, causing financial or health loss, or death, the individual can be sentenced to three years of imprisonment, handed a Tk50,000 fine, or both.
However, mentioning the weakness of the law, Monzur said, "In section 52 and 53, there is no specific mention of punishment for doctors, or persons concerned with medical services, for violating rules. So, we cannot hand them any punishment. However, we can recommend punishment against them to the ministry concerned."