Oct 13, 2020

The Covid-19 pandemic put every machinery of the nation to the test. The instrumentalities of the state, as well as private institutions, are coming up with faculties to make the citizens pass through the pandemic without any severe adverse effect. In such a scenario, the Apex court of the nation too did not lag. In a much -needed time of regulation in June, the Supreme Court on its own took to direct the healthcare institutions uniformly to follow a set pattern concerning the treatment of corona infected people and disposal of dead bodies of the one who succumbed to the infection.

The Court identified the lack of regulation, care, deficiencies and improper disposal method relating to Covid-19 patients from different media sources and documentaries in COVID Care facilities. The Court during the hearing said, "The situation in Delhi is horrendous, horrific and pathetic," The Supreme Court then issued notices to all states and union territories on June 12, 2020, to inform of the infrastructure, personnel in duty, treatment etc. that were utilized.

The Court titled suo motu writ as In Re: The Proper Treatment of COVID 19 Patients and Dignified Handling of Dead Bodies in the Hospitals. The different States and Union territories submitted to the Court regarding the status of health care concerning the virus. One of the affidavits that were filed by the Union of India stated that there was an official meeting of certain ministers, commissioners and mayors of Delhi to develop a strong plan to tackle the virus and discussion of measures that were adopted.

On close examination of the affidavits filed by the states and union territories, the Court has noticed that there is lack of supervision and observed that there is non-identification of inadequacies from the submission which has put the state in a position not to better the faculty by deeming that the healthcare is apt and serviceable which in reality is not true.

The Court thus maintained that there is a need for proper supervision and control, improvement in the practices and mandatory implementation of the rules. The Court issued the following orders after due consideration of the status quo in hospitals nationwide in the petition.

◊ The rates must be regulated and prescribed by the Centre for all hospitals, testing centres and healthcare institutions in the states and union territories. Any discrepancy concerning the same must be duly noted and corrected.

◊ The health ministry and the Centre must form an expert committee inclusive of senior doctors from central government hospitals, doctors from hospitals in Delhi, All India Institute of Medical Sciences and officials from the health ministry. The Expert committee should be entrusted with the task of providing guidelines of necessity to the Delhi hospitals for improvement and better medical practices, conduct official inspections once a week, undertake surprise visits to assess the preparedness of the hospitals and submit the report to the Ministry. The states must also constitute such expert committees for monitoring and enhancing the medical resources and submit reports.

◊ Installation of Closed-Circuit Television Cameras in Hospitals in Centre as wells as states and passing on such footage to the Ministry or the appropriate authority to know the actuality of treatments of patients

◊ Allowing an attendant each of a COVID affected patient to be in the hospital and a designated help desk accessible in person or via call for knowing the health of the patients.

◊ Directions to be put forth through the power entrusted under Disaster Management Act,2005 by the Health Minister and Centre to adhere to an efficient and categorized discharge policy.

The Court had ordered for another hearing of the same matter in July, but there has been no such hearing till date. It is to be noted that the action of the Supreme Court issuing guidelines regarding clinical management of hospitals related to Covid-19 has forced the state and central government to be on toes to make sure adequate measure is put in place in hospitals and testing centres. There is an improvement in the care of the patients as per the demanding need.