The Supreme Court on Monday directed the Quality Council of India to reply to a petition asking it to explore developing a new national accreditation policy that assures all National Accreditation Board for Institutions (NABH) hospitals adhere to the best patient-to-doctor and patient-to-nurse ratios.
On the suit filed by the Indian Professional Nurses Association, a bench of Justices AS Bopanna and PS Narsimha issued notice to the Quality Council of India and others.
The Indian Professional Nurses Association (IPNA) has filed a petition asking concerned authorities to consider developing a new national accreditation policy that ensures adherence to the best patient-to-doctor and patient-to-nurse ratios in all NABH hospitals and hospitals that apply for NABH accreditation, as well as to record the documents that it scrutinises before granting accreditation to hospitals, and to form a committee to monitor this.
The petition was submitted by Dhiraj Abraham Philip, an advocate-on-record, and was supported by Robin Raju, Deepa Joseph, and Blessan Mathews.
IPNA, who claimed to be a Non-Governmental registered body working for the welfare of the nurses across India, submitted that the instant petition was moved on knowing that National Accreditation Board for Hospitals and Healthcare Providers (NABH) healthcare quality standards are basic standards for healthcare quality and patient safety does not assess the patient to doctor, patient, to nurse ratio.
“It is astounding to note that the respondent which is a constituent board of the Quality Council of India and is considered to be the apex national healthcare accreditation and quality improvement body, does not assess the patient-nurse ratio and it has no norms in that regard,” the petition said.
The petition further added that it is also imperative to note that the Respondent assesses if a hospital is complying with the patient-nurse ratio from the documents submitted by the hospitals.
As per the petition the quality Council of India was set up in 1997 by the Government of India jointly with the Indian industry as an autonomous body under the administrative control of the Department For Promotion Of Industry And Internal Trade and this Department comes under the Ministry of Commerce and Industry.
The petitioner submitted that non-adherence to the best patient-to-doctor ratio and patient-to-nurse ratio causes immense physical and mental hardship to doctors and nurses presently employed in the NABH hospitals. The strict adherence of best nurses to patient and patient to doctor ratio is imperative in the current context of the new variant of Covid-19 and to avoid a situation akin to the second wave where doctors and nurses were overburdened and stressed out, the petition was submitted.
The petitioner requested that the court instruct Respondents to consider developing a new national accreditation policy that assures the best patient-to-doctor and patient-to-nurse ratios in all NABH hospitals and hospitals that apply for NABH certification.
The petition also asked the Respondent National Certification Board to make public the materials it reviews before awarding hospital accreditation.
The petition also requested that the Respondents form a committee to monitor the quality of patient treatment, patient safety, and patient satisfaction.