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Hospitals told they MUST take all emergency patients, including foreigners

PHOTO: Flickr/Jeffrey Beall

The Thai government has reminded hospitals of their obligation in law to accept ALL emergency patients, including foreign tourists.

A private hospital in Bangkok made international headlines last week for all the wrong reasons, after refusing to accept a seriously injured Taiwanese tourist who subsequently died.

In a government press release, the National Institute for Emergency Medicine says it’s prepared for an expected increase in accidents over the end-of-year holiday period.

NIEMS says emergency medical teams have conducted drills as part of the preparations, with a particular focus on the Universal Coverage for Emergency Patients system.

Under this system, emergency patients in critical condition MUST be treated at the nearest hospital free of charge for the first 72 hours until their condition stabilises and they can be transferred elsewhere. NIEMS says hospitals are legally obliged to accept patients without checking their rights or financial status beforehand.

The institute says some examples of emergency critical conditions are being unconscious, cardiac arrest, limb weakness, sudden abnormalities, severe physical injuries or brain injuries threatening life, and conditions affecting breathing or circulation.

For non-critical emergencies, patients are advised to coordinate with their nearest hospitals or use their insurance first.

Meanwhile, foreign tourists are entitled to treatment at ANY Thai hospital, regardless of whether it’s an emergency or not. In the case of a foreign tourist in a critical emergency, hospitals can claim expenses from the patient’s life, health, or travel insurance. Or from the government if the other repayments are unsuccessful.

The institute warned that once a patient has been delivered to a hospital, the hospital CANNOT refuse treatment.

SOURCE: National News Bureau of Thailand

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