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Iran hospital detains cash-strapped patients-paper

TEHRAN, Sept 26 (Reuters) - An Iranian hospital has set up a cell to detain patients who are unable to pay their medical bills, a newspaper reported on Sunday.

Sina, a state-run hospital in central Tehran, has stationed three guards on the cell in its orthopaedic unit around the clock, the daily Aftab-e Emrouz said.

"To make sure patients will fulfil their financial obligations, we began detaining patients who fail to pay several months ago," it quoted the unnamed director of hospital as saying.

"We had no other choice. We have to pay our staff and had to assign a room for this purpose."

The newspaper said the hospital locked up an average of 24 patients a month because they could not pay.

It has also been forced to readmit two inmates for treatment because of injuries they suffered while trying to escape, it quoted several nurses as saying.

Aftab said some officials at the hospital were concerned about the rising cost of feeding and clothing the detainees, some of whom have been languishing in the cell for months.

Iran's government gave state hospitals financial autonomy several years ago,allowing them to charge patients enough to finance their operations.

Hospitals usually demand at least one-thirdof medical costs in cash in advance before they proceed with treatment, even in some emergency cases.


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