Intended for healthcare professionals


Make detaining patients who can’t pay their medical bills illegal

BMJ 2017; 359 doi: (Published 07 December 2017) Cite this as: BMJ 2017;359:j5714
  1. Zosia Kmietowicz
  1. The BMJ

Detaining patients who are unable to pay their healthcare bills should be made illegal with prosecutions for hospitals that break the law, global health specialists have said.

The phenomenon of imprisoning patients who have outstanding medical fees is common in several sub-Saharan African countries, including Cameroon, Democratic Republic of Congo, Ghana, Kenya, Nigeria, and Zimbabwe, as well as in India and Indonesia, according to a report from the Centre on Global Health Security at the think tank Chatham House in London.1

It’s difficult to say how many people are affected as there is very little research on this issue.

The report gives the …

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