By Mario Casayuran
Senator Richard J. Gordon has warned hospitals against putting too much burden on their patients by imposing excessive charges and committing unjust practices.
Gordon, chairman of the Philippine Red Cross (PRC) and chairman of the Senate justice and human rights committee, issued the warning after a daughter of an intensive care unit patient sought his help in connection with the unjust practices committed by the Unihealth – Baypointe Hospital and Medical Center, a privately owned and controlled hospital operating in the Subic Bay Freeport Zone.
Gordon also formally asked the help of Department of Health (DOH) Secretary Francisco T. Duque III to look into the matter.
“As I have stressed multiple times in the past, medical facilities’ practice of charging retesting fees for PRC blood units is unnecessary and burdens poor Filipinos financially. Hospitals should realize that patients are already suffering enough hence, they should not overcharge in terms of blood,” he said.
The daughter complained that their running bill for blood alone has reached the enormous amount of P200,000.00 because the hospital charges an exorbitant amount of P6,000 per unit of blood. In case the patient would provide two donors, the fee charged would be P1,000 per unit. For blood coming from the PRC, a retesting fee of P6,000 per unit is also charged.
Gordon assured that blood units coming from the PRC has already been tested and there was no need to re-test them.
He also stressed that the first blood bank in the country was the PRC and it supplies more than 50 percent of the country’s total blood needs, with two million volunteers who ensure that there is always a ready supply in the organization’s blood banks.
He emphasized that PRC donors undergo a very strict screening process that includes an interview about their lifestyle, recent overseas visits, and health issues, which guarantees safety of blood donations,” the PRC chief stressed.
Gordon said that while the PRC is always very careful to ensure that the donated blood is free from HIV, Hepatitis B and other transfusion transmitted infections, the organization will soon provide nucleic acid testing.
He said this would further ensure that PRC only supplies quality blood since the said test could detect HIV infection within a shorter period.
“I am not against hospitals but they should not let the people suffer. The hospital is clearly violating laws, rules, and regulations,” Gordon further noted as he asked the health chief to look into the complaint and take action.