13 April 2010
By Ruturaj Jadav and Mehul Jani
None of the city’s four civic hospitals has any form of insurance cover – not for patients, not for equipment, not for doctors, nor for visitors
Last Saturday’s fire at the V S Hospital cath lab that claimed two lives and left the city administration shaken, has brought to light a startling fact – none of the city’s four civicrun hospitals have any form of insurance cover. Their medical equipment is not insured, the buildings are not insured, the employees are not insured, even the patients do not have any cover.
In case of a mishap at any of these hospitals, the civic administration would stand to lose everything, as they did in the VS hospital fire – Rs 4 to 5 crore, according to preliminary estimates.
In these times of insurance oversell, when there are insurance products for just about anything – from household consumer durables to pets – it is strange that the civic administration has left itself vulnerable to financial loss in case of an accident.
More shocking is that fact that it has chosen to leave patients at its hospitals coverless. No wonder then the administration was in a unholy hurry to deny that the two deaths at the V S Hospital on Saturday were in any way connected with the fire. One death was attributed to cardiac arrest and second to ‘unknown reasons’.
But V S fire has woken up the administration. “We had not felt the need to have insurance cover for our hospitals so far. However, after these accidents, we feel the need to do a re–think on this issue. I have directed my officers to get all civic hospitals covered now,” Mayor Kanaji Thakore said on Monday.
Mayor’s sense of urgency is understandable. There have been a string of accidents in the past threefour years in municipal hospitals.
- A year back, a three–day–old infant died after an incubator at Shardaben Municipal Hospital caught fire.
- Just 15 days later, there was a fire again in the same department.
- Two years back, a major fire broke out at LG Hospital. Three colour Doppler machines were destroyed. The loss – Rs 1.35 crore.
- In the serial blasts of July 2008, LG Hospital was one of the targets.
- And now the V S hospital fire.
While mayor’s decision to buy insurance cover for all civic hospitals is welcome, it has come many years late.
Cover for patients, equipment and staff has been a norm in private hospitals for years now. “For us the safety of patient is our first priority. Second comes safety of staff and then safety of visitors. We already have insurance for clinical equipment and other things,” Dr Praful Pawar, CEO, Apollo Hospitals, Ahmedabad, said.
Dr Bharat Gadhavi, MD and CEO, HCG MediSurge Hospital, said his hospital is fully insured. “These policies may seem of little use now, but one must remember that just like a disease, disaster strikes without warning,” he said.
The AMC has learnt this lesson the bitter way.