Monday, May 28, 2012

MTNL rapped for shortchanging worker after heart attacks

MTNL rapped for shortchanging worker after heart attacks
By Rohan Venkataramakrishnan in New Delhi
WILL a person suffering a heart attack race to the hospital or make a prior pit stop at his office to seek the employer’s permission for treatment? This was the poser the Central Administrate Tribunal ( CAT) put to Mahanagar Telephone Nigam Limited ( MTNL) while overturning the public sector undertaking’s decision not to reimburse the medical bills of an employee who had suffered two heart attacks in the span of a week.
Astoundingly, MTNL expected the staff member to notify the company before heading to the emergency room.
CAT has now directed the PSU to pay for the treatment and come down heavily on it for expecting an employee facing a lifethreatening medical emergency to seek consent first. “ A person who has suffered a heart attack will be in panic and his entire family will also be gripped by anxiety,” George Paracken, a judicial member of the tribunal bench, observed. “ When a person is fighting for his life, it is not expected of him or his family to intimate ( the employer) about his admission to the hospital immediately.” Sonepat resident Mahinder Kumar, who works for MTNL, suffered a severe heart attack on June 10, 2010, and was rushed to the nearest hospital. While still in a critical condition, Kumar was moved to another hospital where he ran up a ` 3- lakh bill before being discharged three days later.
On June 17, three days after he had been discharged, he had to be admitted to the hospital again with another cardiac complication.
This time the bill came to ` 1 lakh.
When Kumar resumed duty at MTNL, he submitted the details of his treatment to the company for reimbursement. But his application was rejected because he had not intimated the department regarding his admission in a hospital that was not on the PSU’s panel. “ The respondents ( MTNL) rejected his claim… stating that he got the treatment done from Jaipur Golden Hospital, a nonpanel private institution, and no intimation of his admission to the hospital was submitted to the office. Consequently, the medical inspector could not verify both cases as mandated by the MTNL policy,” the tribunal recorded in its order.
CAT hauled up MTNL for using this “ flimsy” ground to get out of its constitutional duty to bear the medical expenses of its employees. “ The petitioner ( Kumar) had to be operated upon in an emergency as he had suffered a heart problem. In case he had waited for a prior sanction, he might not have survived,” the tribunal noted.
Rapping MTNL for trying to use its medical policy in an “ impractical” and “ arbitrary” manner, the tribunal allowed Kumar’s petition, seeking reimbursement and also awarded him ` 10,000 to meet his legal costs.

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