Mandatory free-of-cost emergency treatment for every resident of Rajasthan

Rajasthan has become the first state in the country to establish and protect the legal rights of patients to access equitable healthcare services. On 21st March 2023, the government of Rajasthan passed Right to Health (RTH) Bill. With this, now the government and private hospitals will no longer be able to refuse treatment to patients and every person will get guaranteed treatment. In case of emergency, private hospitals will also have to provide free treatment.

The Bill establishes regulations that ensure patients have access to various services, including outpatient and inpatient care, doctor consultations, medications, diagnostic tests, emergency transportation such as ambulance services, procedures, and emergency treatment.

A separate fund will also be formed for free treatment in an emergency in private hospitals. There is also a provision to establish authority at the district and state levels for any type of hospital-level negligence. Any person who knowingly violates any provision of this Act, will face penalties of up to Rs.10,000 for the first offence and up to Rs. 20,000 for any subsequent offences. A web portal and helpline centre will be established for filing complaints. The concerned officer will have 24 hours to respond to the complaint.

What facilities will people get?

According to the Bill, every person in Rajasthan can access information about the diagnosis, investigation, treatment, future results and possible complications and expected expenses of the disease. The Bill provides for free treatment for patients at public health institutions and emergency treatment is available without upfront payment at private healthcare providers. Patients have the right to choose alternative treatment methods and access to their medical records.

According to the Bill, the patient during emergency treatment such as accidents, snake or animal bite and any other emergency decided by the state health authority will be treated without prepayment. These facilities will be provided by public health institution, health care establishment and designated health care centres.

With the Bill, people will be able to access information about the rate and tax of every type of service and facility and during the treatment, the sources of taking medicine and investigation can be selected.

What was the need for the Bill?

In 1996, the Supreme Court held that the Right to life (Article 21) included the right to health within its fold, and also pointed out the obligation of state governments to provide health services. Recently in 2018, the National Commission on Human Rights drafted the Charter of Patient Rights to be implemented by state governments.

The Rajasthan Right to Health Bill, 2022 was introduced in the Rajasthan Assembly on 22nd September 2022. The main objective was to provide for the protection and fulfilment of equitable rights in health and well-being. The state government had sent the Bill to the select committee on the basis of the suggestion of all the members and finally it was passed.

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