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Delhi HC directs IRDAI to expedite insurance approval to max 60 minutes to quickly discharge Covid-19 patients

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The Delhi High Court today directed the Insurance Regulatory and Development Authority (IRDAI) to issue immediate instructions to insurance companies/their agents to Insurance companies/their agents be directed to communicate their approvals to the concerned hospitals/establishments within a maximum time period of 30 to 60 minutes, in order to ensure that the discharge of the patients is not delayed in any manner.

A single Judge Bench of Justice Pratibha Singh passed the order in two petitions concerning the non-availability of Remdesivir and issues of the portal maintained by the Government of NCT of Delhi with regards to the hospital admissions.

“Once a patient is ready for discharge and while the attendant of the patient is waiting for the discharge slip to be processed, the hospitals/establishments can, instead of holding up the bed, process the new admission on that bed, so that the bed does not remain unoccupied and needy patients are immediately given admission for their treatment,” the Bench ordered.

The Court highlighted in its order that there were three aspects, which need to be considered at this stage in respect of Remdesivir:

i. The protocol for administration of the drug;

ii. The allocation of the drug for the State of Delhi; and

iii. The distribution and sale of the drug

The patient/family member/attendant of the patient should be allowed to put in a request in the portal for obtaining the Remdesivir, along with the following details:

i. Name of the patient

ii. Name of the hospital where the patient is admitted (prescription of the hospital would also be uploaded)

iii. Covid-19 positive report

iv. Aadhaar number of the patient (copy of Aadhar card be uploaded)

v. Name and mobile number of the patient/family member/attendant who would be making the payment and taking delivery of the drug

“If the portal has the above fields, a periodic list can be generated in chronological order along with the payment gateway, by which it can be ensured that the ultimate patient receives the medicine without the same being misused or sold in the black market”, said the court.

Sacchin Puri, Senior Counsel appearing for the petitioner, drew the attention of the Court to the website of the Government of NCT of Delhi (GNCTD) – submitted that in so far as ICU beds are concerned, the portal can be misleading for the patients in as much as wherever even ICU beds are being shown as available, the patients are unable to obtain admission, as there are a large number of persons already in queue in the said hospital for obtaining ICU admissions.

Further, it is submitted that when the beds under Covid-19 category are seen, the same is also misleading in as much as a large number of these beds are not oxygenated.

After hearing Counsels for the parties and after seeing the portal online through share-screen mode, along with Counsels for parties, the court noted that the portal is only providing two separate categories – COVID-19 beds and COVID-19 ICU beds.

This distinction could be confusing for the user in as much as some of the hospitals do not have oxygenated beds even in the COVID-19 beds category. It is a matter of common knowledge that most patients are isolating in their homes, unless they suffer from comorbidities.

Such information on the portal can also be misleading as patients and their families could spend precious time in visiting one hospital after another on the basis of data revealed on the portal. It would thus be useful if against each of the names of the hospitals, it is indicated as to whether the beds vacant are capable of providing oxygen treatment or not, suggested the Bench.

Read Also: Uttarakhand HC asks state govt to consider employing dental surgeons to supplement overworked doctors, nurses amid Covid surge

“It has also been brought to the notice of the Court that after booking of RTPCR tests and blood tests, there has been a huge delay of almost 2-3 days before the samples are collected and though test reports were earlier being generated within 24 hours, they are now taking at least 2-3 days. It is also reported that there is a shortage of RTPCR Kits”, said the Court, while directing the Government Counsel to seek instructions from the government officials, who may interact with the laboratories and understand the difficulties they are facing and if so, what remedial measures can be taken. 

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