Should the discharge summary be provided to every patient?
Mr. G. Sivakumar, was taken to the hospital on 1st April 2011, for treatment of multiple fractures in his leg in an accident to the Institute of Orthopaedics and Traumatology, Rajiv Gandhi Government General Hospital. A week later, he sought a discharge against medical advice but he was not provided with a discharge summary despite request. The Hospital authorities cited lack of specific government orders in this regard. When Mr. Sivakumar wanted a wound certificate, he was informed told that as he had been discharged against medical advice, it cannot be provided to him.
Mr. Sivakumar filed an application under the Right to Information (RTI) Act, wherein he sought to know the rules and procedures adopted to provide a discharge summary or wound certificate. He asked whether he had the right to be informed about the treatment provided to him. The hospital authorities took the view that queries about patient rights should be referred to the judiciary.
Mr. Sivakumar sent a petition to the health secretary, the director of medical education and also the hospital dean for a discharge summary. The hospital authorities asked him to come to the hospital on 13th June 2011. As he was recuperating from surgery to his broken knees, he sent his wife but no papers were handed over to her.
To the query of Mr. Sivakumar as to why the hospital had refused to provide the wound certificate even though the police records and the accident register at the hospital clearly stated his injuries, the hospital authorities replied that the accident register remains with the casualty ward and is not provided to the department. The department argued that had the patient completed the treatment, a final opinion on his wounds would have been provided to him.
The State Information Commission has directed the Institute of Orthopaedics and Traumatology, Rajiv Gandhi Government General Hospital, “to respond clearly, fully and in detail” to a road accident victim about procedures for obtaining a discharge summary.
Mr. Sivakumar had filed for compensation at the Accident Claims Tribunal in July. An appropriate certificate giving details of the injury would have been of help to him. He is planning to file a writ to the Court to make it mandatory for all government hospitals to provide discharge summaries for those seeking treatment elsewhere.