Editor's Review

It will be illegal for hospitals to deny emergency patients treatment on account of no money if a bill tabled before parliament is passed by MPs.

A bill has been tabled before parliament seeking to criminalise the request for advance payments from emergency patients by hospitals.

The Health Amendment Bill 2021, proposes that it be considered a criminal offence for any medical institution to deny emergency patients treatment due to lack of money.

"A medical institution that fails to provide emergency medical treatment while having the ability to do so commits an offence and is liable upon conviction to a fine not exceeding Ksh3 million," the bill reads in part.

The bill further proposes that the person in charge of the medical facility found in violation of the bill also be liable to pay a fine of Ksh3 million.

In the scenario where the first call hospital lacks the facilities or personnel to tend to a patient, the institution shall arrange arrange a referral for the patient.

"Every person has the rights to the highest attainable standards of health, which shall include progressive access for provision of promotive, curative, palliative and rehabilitative services," the bill stipulates.

The bill also seeks to have hospitals barred from detaining bodies as a way of forcing families to settle bills.

"A person in charge of a public hospital commits an offence if the person detains or permits the detention of a body for the purpose of enforcing settlement of bills. Such a person is on conviction liable to a fine not exceeding Ksh2 million or imprisonment for a term of three months or both," the bill further reads.

The bill seeks to do away with cases of patients breathing their last in emergency waiting rooms or families plunging into debts and poverty to clear medical bill just to be allowed to bury their deceased.