ARDD is deeply saddened by the withholding of an infant’s corpse at a private medical facility in Irbid as a guarantee of payment of fees. (Al Ghad, February 21, 2022). This case and the fact that, while this is not an extended practice, it is not an isolated case either, as similar instances have been reported over the years. At the same time, ARDD strongly commends all government efforts that have been undertaken to put an end to this situation.
Under the laws regulating the activities of private hospitals (Regulation no 54 of 2014), Article 17 paragraph D explicitly prohibits “seizing the body of the deceased for any reason, unless the death was the result of a judicial case.” Furthermore, the Penal Code no 16 of 1960 regulates behavior regarding unlawful detention of persons (Art. 346), and unlawful behavior with regards to burial sites and practices (Art. 277). Finally, the Jordanian Civil Law no 9 of 2001, grants the right to material and moral compensation when there is an infringement on freedom, honor, reputation, social or financial status. (Article 256)
Withholding of corpses, along with the seizure of personal identification documents, as guarantees of payments of medical fees are unlawful practices. As ARDD has explained, according to the provisions of the Public Funds Collection Law No. 6 of 1952, the hospital administration and the accounting department have the right, three months after the due date, to submit the claim to the pertinent administrative governor to proceed with the measures necessary to collect the financial dues. Moreover, a set of internal circulars issued by the MoH and hospitals provide guidelines as to the different processes available to patients and hospitals to settle financial claims, without hospitals resorting to committing illegal acts. (ARDD, 2022)
Recently, procedures for payment of medical fees have been clearly established by MoH circular 748 of January 25, 2022. The circular, which applies to public and private medical centers, clarifies that:
– the guarantee that hospitals are entitled to obtain is a pledge, signed by patients or their guardian/s, confirming the obligation to pay the financial dues;
– the mechanism for paying the financial dues of Jordanian and non-Jordanian patients, as follows:
a. If the patient is Jordanian, claims of less than JD100 are submitted by the hospital to the administrative governor in the area of residence of the taxpayer. Claims of more than JD100 are forwarded to the Health Insurance Department.
b. If the patient is not Jordanian, the financial claims are submitted to the Health Insurance Department and then to the Ministry of Interior Affairs.
ARDD urges individuals in Jordan to contact relevant authorities and/or a legal professional shall they experience any request by medical centers that deviates from the established procedures under the law.
ARDD emphasizes the importance of the health sector abiding by the ethics, guidance of care of duty, and the applicable legislation under Jordanian law.
ARDD thanks the Governor of Irbid and the Ministry of Health for their efforts in solving the issues and continuous work in overcoming the challenges facing the health sector in Jordan. Also, ARDD thanks all members of the Justice Forum for their contributions in monitoring the situation of the healthcare system in Jordan.