HC notice to Centre, AIIMS for refusing surgery to poor man
The Delhi High Court Tuesday issued notice to the Centre, city government and All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) on a plea by a person seeking a direction to the hospital to provide him free treatment costing nearly Rs. 8 lakh for Reiter's disease.
Justice Vibhu Bakhru sought a response from the central and the Delhi government health ministries and the hospital by Sep 26 while asking them to come out with a solution to the issue.
In his petition, Sarvesh, 38, said he has been left crippled and immobile because of the ailment and urgently needs a total hip-and-knee replacement surgery but being poor he cannot afford it.
His wife, the only earning member in his family, works as a domestic help in Delhi on a meagre salary of Rs. 4000 which is insufficient to feed a family of four, and it is thus impossible for him to arrange Rs. 8 lakh for the surgery, he said in his plea.
Sarvesh used to work as a casual labourer before he was immobilised due to Reiter's disease in 2012. The initial treatment, at AIIMS, stopped the disease from getting aggravated. But his knees and hips remain immobile.
Sarvesh then went to Primus Hospital under the EWS category for hip-and-knee replacement surgery where the doctors referred him to AIIMS saying the surgery involved too many complications and could be performed only at AIIMS.
He was admitted to AIIMS and was given a date for the surgery, May 15. However, the surgery was not performed as he was unable to pay for it.
Sarvesh said he made several representations to the AIIMS authorities, Delhi government and the union health ministry requesting them for free treatment. However, the AIIMS authorities reiterated that the surgery could not be performed until the money was paid.
Appearing for Sarvesh, advocate Ashok Agarwal told the court that this action of AIIMS is "violating his human and fundamental right to life".
He added that AIIMS being a government hospital is under a constitutional obligation to provide free medical treatment to the poor.
Reiter's disease, also known as reactive arthritis, is an auto-immune condition that develops in response to an infection in another part of the body.
(Posted on 19-08-2014)