12:00 AM, August 14, 2018 / LAST MODIFIED: 12:00 AM, August 14, 2018

Rights corner

Right to emergency medical services

On 8 August 2018, the honourable High Court Division (comprising Justice Syed Refaat Ahmed and Justice Farid Ahmed) approved a comprehensive set of guidelines on facilitating emergency medical services to the victims of road accidents and protecting Good Samaritans. The Court provided two observations on the Guidelines. With regard to the provision no. 9.1 of the Guidelines, the Court made it mandatory for all public and private hospitals to provide emergency medical services to the victims of road accidents, even without the necessity of availing consent of the competent guardians or relatives. Immediate treatment and safety of the injured person is more important than the consent of the guardians or relatives. On the other hand, the Court required all public and private hospitals to have sufficient infrastructure for the emergency department including adequate numbers of manpower, machineries and ambulances for the injured patients. The Court urged the concerned authority to give required directions in this regard within six months of enforcing the Guidelines.

On top of that, the Court asked the Ministry of Health and Family Planning to incorporate Court's observations into the already formulated Guidelines, publish them through a gazette notification and publicise in mass media so that people from all walks of life can know about this development. Furthermore, the Court was of the view that the Court's observations will be treated as equivalent to law until a competent Act in this regard is passed by the Parliament.

On the basis of the Guidelines coupled with the Court's observations, all public and private hospitals/clinics are now obligated to extend emergency medical services to the victims of road accidents, ignoring legal complexities (that might arise out of the case) and financial strength of the victims. It is to mention that the Guidelines have protected the interest of the Good Samaritans who (such as doctors, medical assistants and nurses) are basically dedicated to provide the best care possible to patients.

Background:

On 10 February 2016, Bangladesh Legal Aid and Services Trust (BLAST) and others filed a write petition in the High Court Division of the Supreme Court of Bangladesh seeking directions from the Court with regard to the necessity of extending emergency medical services to the victims of road accidents and protecting Good Samaritans. During that time, many reports were published in the newspapers that some hospitals denied emergency medical services to the individuals who were seriously injured of road accidents. The hospitals used to avoid providing emergency medical services thinking of some legal complexities and uncertain financial capacity of the injured persons. On the basis of that writ petition, the Court then issued a rule nisi calling upon the Secretary of Ministry of Health and Family Planning, Secretary of Ministry of Road and Bridges, and Directorate General of Health Services, to show cause as to why the Court would not give directions in favour of extending emergency medical services to the victims of road accidents and protecting Good Samaritans. The Court then asked the government o formulate Guidelines with regard to the issue and the government also complied with the orders of the Court.

 

Compiled by Law Desk.