EARNING FROM YOUR CHILD’S DEATH (And wife’s critical illness!)


            Mrs. A walks into the hospital with pregnancy 8 months, raised B.P. and her unborn child, she has been told by her attending obstetrician, is sick. We examine her and find that she indeed has a very high B.P. This process has affected her kidneys to some extent and her unborn child is actually dead. There is no heart sounds coming from the fetus. We perform a sonography and inform the pregnant woman and her family of the situation. We also inform them of the need for early delivery now that the fetus is dead within. They agree.

Labour is induced and in due course of time she has a still born delivery. After nearly a week to ten days her high B.P. and associated sicknesses get cured and it is time to discharge the subject.
          This is the time when the parents of the patient walk into our chamber and pay the bill. This middle-aged couple pays the bill. After the bill has been paid, the son-in-law walks in and produces all the forms, prescriptions and documents that are to be submitted for claiming reimbursement from Health Insurance company. Quizzically we look at the parents of the patient who have paid the bill who now tell that their son-in-law gets medical expenses repaid through his employing company. The company has insured him and his family’s medical expenses (Mediclaim). The files and papers are prepared for the son-in-law to present the claim.

            It is only at this stage that the son-in-law appears on the horizon. Till now he was nowhere on the scene. The entire crisis when his wife was critically so sick and she had a still-born delivery, this gentleman and most of the times even his parents and relatives are nowhere around. But when the health insurance papers are to be processed he takes over.
            Typically when all this is on, he requests to inflate the bill (which is always refused by us). He then tells that the money paid by his in-laws would not be returned to them once his claim is passed. He will be retaining the money himself. In other words, he will earn from the medical insurance claimed for the treatment of his sick wife and dead child. He will not pay himself but he will claim the money from the insurance company.
“It is her parents’ duty to pay” or “It is a custom that the maternity expenses are to be borne by the parents of the woman” are the typical statements made. So why not give the money reimbursed to the lady’s parents? Typical answers follow “they won’t accept”. (Have asked? Silence!) “They don’t need”. Even the parents say at times “We will manage; we can’t take money from son-in-law”. “How will it look” and the ubiquitous expression “What will people say”!

            So the entire amount of money of medical bill for treatment of this sick wife and delivering their dead baby paid by her parents is ruthlessly pocketed by the son-in-law making an earning. The son-in-law pockets the entire amount and the average middle class parents watch helplessly “What will people say!!!!”

            Sometimes (rarely of-course), exceptions occur when the son-in-law walks in to pay the bill, just refuses to let the in-laws even enter the doctor’s chambers (lest they get emotional) and himself pays up. I have also seen a situation once when the son-in-law rushed in for paying the bill at least an hour before the in-laws were to visit the hospital so that the latter don’t get on opportunity to pay. But these are exceptions and happen scarcely. Most of the times the in-laws pay the bill and the son-in-law pocket the amount when the insurance company reimburses ruthlessly earning from his wife’s sickness and his dead baby.

The ethical and legal aspects:

            Legally the son-in-law is not wrong. We as the hospital provided the services. We were paid, who-so-ever pays is legally immaterial. He is entitled to reimbursement from insurance companies for medical bills of his family and he claims it and all is okay in the eyes of law. But lest we forget, ethics are much beyond law. As Immanuel Kant said; “In law a man is guilty when he violates the rights of others. In ethics he is guilty if he only thinks of doing so.” One may be legally right but ethically wrong. This applies here. The parents of the girl foot the bill. Many a times they are not strong financially to take this burden so the hospital reduces the bill of its services on humanitarian grounds. But the son-in-law pockets this entire amount without offering even a part payment to the in-laws. Thereby he has earned from the sickness of his wife and death of his baby. 


  1. Shruti Mehandale tweeted this after reading this blog: I am speechless after reading the blog ...karma will catch up one on one with the person...apne yahan riti rewaaz hi dakiyanusi hai

  2. Milind Kher tweeted this after reading this blog: It is so brutal and heartless. Sometimes fact is more distressing than fiction.

  3. Yogini Deshpande tweeted this after reading this blog: I am short of words. Read & Weep

  4. Sanjukta Sarkar sent this message on reading this blog on FB:

    I guess this woman was ill also since proper care was not given, all that guy could think of was maintaining bills to get reimbursed.

    Whose karma are we talking about? dont the parents also have a role in standing up for what is right and not acceptable? we all through our actions give into the existence of such selfish mentality and then we find excuses like karma and social expectations!

  5. Jyoti Daswani posted this comment in FB on this blog:

    From the beginning, it is the parents' fault for having got their daughter married into a wrong family.Again since their daughter is still alive, they would like to impress her in laws, by paying, so that there is little chance if any that they treat her well, and will continue doing their best,in order that the daughter doesn't take any drastic step, and also, in order that she doesn't come back to them. In the latter case,it will be like, what will people say.And also that chances of her getting remarried are nill in such a society.It is all so easy to blame the parents,but traditions die hard,and they too are, like many of us,victims of the system.It is for the young son in law,who is earning, to have the courage, to break tradition, and protect his wife.

  6. cUstoms and rituals are mostly followed mindlessly ,feeling bad doesn't solves the purpose unless we do something about it .I did ....took a tough stand about all these practices in my life and with those who are connected to me .
    माँगने से कब मिले हैं अधिकार,उनहें तो छीनना पड़ता है ।

  7. Money is the insurance for maintaining the relationship and it is seen as such by the boy's family. The boy and his family expect premium payment by the girl and her family for the renewal of the insurance for 'good' behavior by the boy and his family. And even if the insurance is regularly paid, the premium only increases. This is because the system is tolerated by the wife and is ensured to be in place by the society norms.. Its sad but well oiled system...

  8. Charu rawat Mittal commented this on FB:

    Sir, your blog reflects the true state of affairs in our society.. disheartening but true!

  9. Deepa Damodaran commented this on FB:

    As long as the woman who tolerates all this does nothing to change her situation - no one can help her! Women should understand - if they want something to change - they have to make a start by taking a stand towards what is right... If losing her baby is not serious enough then what is?...

    1. Jyoti Daswani has replied to Deepa Damodaran's post thus:

      Powerful words there, Deepa. According to the story,this lady gets hypertension, only when she conceives.The condition is known as eclampsia,where if her pressure is not kept under control throughout the pregnancy,the foetus does not grow to optimum levels,and may even die inside the womb.Such a dead foetus may also affect the life of the mother if it is not removed within a stipulated time frame. Such a woman needs close monitoring, even when under treatment.Now this looks like a middle class family. But yes, she can still take a stand for herself, though it may not be easy.Educating the couple, ie counselling may help.Thanks Dr. Pankaj for encouraging the interaction.


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