In light of the COVID-19 pandemic and ongoing scarcity of beds, oxygen, and medicines in hospitals for treatment of COVID positive patients the Hon’ble Delhi High Court earlier this week delivered firm directions on the availability of Remdesivir injection used for the treatment of COVID positive patients to be available on the online portal. In addition, the Hon’ble HC also stated that information on the availability of vacant beds capable of providing oxygen treatment and approval by insurance companies during discharge of COVID-19 patients to be available on the online portal.
The directions about availability of medicines, vacant beds capable of providing oxygen treatment were passed by the Hon’ble single judge bench of the Hon’ble HC of Delhi, the Hon’ble bench keeping in view the need of an hour issued directions in two petitions concerning the non-availability of Remdesivir injection and issues of the portal maintained by Government of NCT of Delhi with regards to the hospital admissions at www.delhightscorona.in.
Following the directions issued by the Hon’ble bench, the Insurance Regulatory and Development Authority of India (hereinafter referred to as “IRDAI”) is been authorized by the Hon’ble court to immediately issue instructions to insurance companies/their agents to ensure that whenever requests are received for approval for discharge of patients who were affected by COVID-19 and are covered by insurance policies, no delay occurs in giving the approvals.
Further while delivering the directions the Hon’ble court also remarked that:
- Insurance companies/their agents are directed to communicate their approvals to the concerned hospitals/establishments within a maximum period of 30 to 60 minutes, to ensure that the discharge of the patients is not delayed in any manner.
- Once a patient is ready for discharge and while the attendant of the patient is waiting for the discharge slip to be processed, the hospitals/establishments can, instead of holding up the bed, process the new admission on that bed so that the bed does not remain unoccupied and needy patients are immediately given admission for their treatment.
Subsequently, during the hearing, the Hon’ble court also addressed the shortage of Remdesivir Injection and Online Portal, wherein the Hon’ble Court was acquainted with the numbers of availability of Remdesivir and in the due course it was well along communicated that out of the total available Remdesivir vials of 16 lakhs, 72,000 vials were allocated to Delhi NCR from 21st April to 30th April 2021.
Moreover, the Hon’ble Court was also well-versed with the fact that there were a total of 7 manufacturers of Remdesivir however, none of them was located in Delhi.
Consequently, at this point, the Special Secretary of GNCTD’s Department of Health and Family Welfare explained to the Hon’ble Court that the number of Remdesivir vials procured was only 2500 and the remaining have been distributed through private channels to the patients or hospitals directly.
Moreover given the current set-up, reliance was made on a fresh circular/ notification issued by the Delhi Government recommending to create a portal for distribution of Remdesivir vials.
At the outset in regards to the distribution of Remdesivir the Hon’ble court opined that “the general public is aware and has knowledge of the fact that most government and private hospitals issue prescriptions to the patients and the aides to the patients are left to arrange the medicine on their own. The situation is so alarming that family members of patients travel across the city repeatedly visiting distributors, chemists, stockists to obtain the medicine. This could also be leading to the exposure of so many persons to the virus. As of last night, post the filing of the present writ petition, a circular/order has been issued to closely monitor the distribution of Remdesivir and for creation of a portal on a real-time basis.”
Moving on, while dealing with the instant petition the Hon’ble court also observed that the portal is being developed and that instead of routing all the drugs through the hospitals or other medical establishments, the patient/family member/attendant of the patient should be allowed to put in a request in the portal for obtaining the Remdesivir, along with the following details:
- Name of the patient
- Name of the hospital where the patient is admitted (prescription of the hospital would also be uploaded)
- Covid-19 positive report
- Aadhaar number of the patient (copy of Aadhar card be uploaded)
- Name and mobile no. of the patient/family member/attendant who would be making the payment and taking delivery of the drug.
Likewise, the Hon’ble Court however also noted that it would consider whether a Committee needs to review the administrative protocol for administration of the said drug.
Following the ongoing discussion on Hospital Admissions and Availability of Oxygen Beds, the Hon’ble HC during the hearing, also referred to the petitioner who filed a petition before the Hon’ble Court that the GNCTD portal www.delhightscorona.in could be misleading as the patients are unable to obtain admissions due to a large number of people already being in queue for obtaining ICU admissions.
Additionally, it is needful to note that the petitioner in his petition also submitted that a proper distinction between various types of beds available in each hospital should be made.
In light of the submission made by the petitioner, the Hon’ble Court observed that “it is clear that the portal is only providing two separate categories i.e., COVID-19 beds and COVID-19 ICU beds. This distinction could be confusing for the user since some of the hospitals do not have oxygenated beds even in the COVID-19 bed’s category. It is a matter of common knowledge that most patients are isolating in their homes unless they suffer from comorbidities. Furthermore, the Hon’ble court also stated that Patients look for hospitals and like establishments primarily when the oxygen levels dip and therefore, having nonoxygenated beds for COVID-19 patients may not be of much use.”
Finally, the Hon’ble court stated that noting this would be useful to the hospitals indicating as to whether the beds vacant are capable of providing oxygen treatment or not and that the data on the portal has to be on a “much more real-time basis” which needs to be updated every one or two hours.
Given this, the Hon’ble Court gave directions to the GNCTD to seek instructions on the aspect of amending the portal and also as to whether a helpline, which would ring on a rotational basis and can be manned even remotely by Nodal Officers who may be allocated to a hospital, can be made available in each of the hospitals.