Positive COVID-19 test report not mandatory for admission in hospitals, govt clarifies

Union Health Ministry says no patient will be refused services on any account, including oxygen and essential drugs, even if they belong to a different city.
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In a significant directive to states and Union Territories, the Union Health Ministry on Saturday said requirement of a positive COVID-19 test report was not mandatory for admission to a health facility.

In its revised national policy for admission of COVID patients to various dedicated health facilities, both public and private, the Union Health Ministry said no patient would be refused services on any account, including oxygen and essential drugs, even if they belonged to a different city.

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"In a significant directive to states, the Union Ministry of Health and Family Welfare has revised the national policy for admission of COVID patients to various categories of COVID facilities. This patient-centric measure aims to ensure prompt, effective and comprehensive treatment of patients suffering from COVID-19," the ministry said.

It also revealed that hospitals under the central government, state governments, and UT administration, including private hospitals managing COVID patients, shall ensure that requirement of a positive test for COVID-19 virus is not mandatory for admission to a COVID health facility.

"A suspect case shall be admitted to the suspect ward of COVID Care Centre (CCC), Dedicated COVID Health Centre (DCHC) of Dedicated COVID Hospital (DHC) as the case may be," the directive to all the states and Union Territories said.

It said no patient will be refused services on any count, which includes medications such as oxygen or essential drugs even if the patient belongs to a different city.

"No patient shall be refused admission on the ground that he/she is not able to produce a valid identity card that does not belong to the city where the hospital is located," it said. The ministry also said admissions to hospital must be "based on need".

"It should be ensured that beds are not occupied by persons who do not need hospitalisation. Further, the discharge should be strictly in accordance with the revised discharge policy," it said.

Three-tier health infrastructure

The Ministry said it has advised chief secretaries of states/Union territories to issue necessary orders and circulars, incorporating these directions within three days, which shall be enforced till replaced by an appropriate uniform policy.

The Union Health Ministry has earlier announced a policy of setting up three-tier health infrastructure for appropriate management of suspect/confirmed COVID-19 cases.

The guidance document issued in this regard on April 7 envisaged setting up of COVID Care Centre (CCC) that will offer care for mild cases. These have been set up in hostels, hotels, schools, stadiums, lodges etc., both public and private, it said.

Functional hospitals like CHC and others, which may be handling regular and non-COVID cases, may also be designated as COVID Care Centres as a last resort, it said. The other facility was the Dedicated COVID Health Centre (DCHC) that offers care for all cases that have been clinically assigned as moderate.

"These should either be a full hospital or a separate block in a hospital with preferably separate entry/exit/zoning. Private hospitals may also be designated as COVID Dedicated Health Centres. These hospitals would have beds with assured oxygen support," the ministry said.

The last one, Dedicated COVID Hospital (DCH), was ordered to be set up to offer comprehensive care primarily for those who have been clinically assigned as severe.

"These hospitals should either be a full hospital or a separate block in a hospital with preferably separate entry/exit. Private hospitals may also be designated as COVID Dedicated Hospitals. These hospitals would have fully equipped ICUs, ventilators, and beds with assured oxygen support," it said.

Edited by Teja Lele Desai

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