Probe, penalize hospitals that reject patients – Sen. Go

Published July 14, 2020, 12:13 AM

by manilabulletin_admin

By Mario B. Casayuran

Senator Christopher Lawrence “Bong” Go has expressed full support to President Duterte’s stand to penalize hospitals that refused to attend to patients who need immediate medical attention.

Sen. Bong Go (Office of Sen. Bong Go / MANILA BULLETIN)
Sen. Bong Go
(Office of Sen. Bong Go / FILE PHOTO / MANILA BULLETIN)

Go stressed this on Tuesday as he demanded the immediate investigation of hospitals that reportedly refused to administer emergency treatment to patients as the country grapples with the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) threat.

“Alam ko na nahihirapan tayong lahat dahil sa health crisis dulot ng COVID-19. Kulang tayo sa kagamitan sa ospital, tulad ng PPEs. Lampas sa kapasidad ang karamihan sa mga pasilidad pero hindi ito dahilan upang hindi tanggapin ang mga nangangailangan ng agarang tulong medikal,” he added. (I know we are all in a difficult situation brought about by COVID-19. Our hospitals lack equipment like personal protective equipment (PPE). Hospitals are straining because of overcapacity but this should not be a reason to close the door to emergency cases.)

After repeatedly reminding and appealing to hospitals not to refuse to administer emergency care to patients amid the ongoing health emergency, Go is now demanding concerned agencies to conduct an immediate investigation on the increasing number of these cases and hold those hospital officials accountable in accordance with the law.

“Ilang beses na akong umapela sa mga ospital na huwag itaboy ang mga pasyente, lalong lalo na ang mga nangangailangan ng emergency care,” Go said. (I have repeatedly appealed to the hospitals not to reject patients, particularly during this crisis period.)

Go, chairman of the Senate health and demography committee, stressed that “accepting patients into hospitals is of paramount importance,” especially given the COVID-19 emergency in the country.

He echoed the President’s remarks that hospitals are the sanctuary of the sick and that they should not choose the ailment of the patient they are accepting.

Go recalled a recent report of a woman in Caloocan City who died during childbirth after being turned away by six hospitals – most of which cited full capacity, while another facility allegedly asked for a deposit payment before admission.

These facilities allegedly cited that they lacked available space for in-patients and were short on blood supply, he said.

“Lagi kong inuulit na hindi maaaring tanggihan ng mga ospital ang sinumang pasyenteng lalapit sa kanila, lalong lalo na ang mga nangangailangan agad ng emergency care. Isa itong paglabag sa batas,” Go said. (I have repeatedly stated that no hospital should close its door to any patient seeking medical help, particularly the emergency cases. This is against the law.)

Go emphasized that Republic Act (RA) 10932, the “Anti-Hospital Deposit Law,” declares it as unlawful for a hospital or clinic to refuse patients and administer medical treatment and support.

He said that the law states that a transfer to another hospital or facility could only be done after administering the necessary emergency treatment and the patient is already in a stable condition.

According to the law, if the refusal to accept is based on a hospital policy, officials of that hospital may be meted four to six years of imprisonment or a fine of P500,000 to P1,000,000, or both.

“May parusa tayo para sa mga hospital staff involved at pati na rin sa administration nito kapag ilabag nila ang batas,” he added. (There is a corresponding penalty for the liable hospital staff as well as the hospital administration.)

Earlier, at least three Filipino patients died after various hospitals reportedly denied them treatment.

A pregnant woman in Manila also died after four medical hospitals turned them down, while another patient expired after at least six hospitals in Cabanatuan City, Nueva Ecija, reportedly turned her away.

Also in Caloocan, a female patient was also allegedly turned away by nine hospitals without receiving any emergency treatment. Authorities have since conducted investigations on the matter.

Just recently, similar complaints were also reported about parents of two infants who died in separate incidents after officials of a hospital in Manila City allegedly refused to admit them.

“Kailangan natin mabigyan ng hustisya ang mga namatayan. Ilang Pilipino pa ba ang dapat mamatay bago magtanda ang mga ospital na gawin nila ang kanilang mandato para sa mga Pilipino?” the Senator said. (Let us give justice to the families of the deceased. How many more will die before these hospitals learn?)

Go already gave a stern warning to hospitals that refuse to administer emergency care to critically ill patients regardless of sickness.

He assured that he would have these incidents investigated by the committee in coordination with authorities to bring offenders to justice.

“Papaimbestigahan ko rin ito bilang chairperson ng Committee on Health sa Senado. Ipapatawag natin ang mga ospital na ito sa tamang panahon and those responsible for these unlawful acts should and will be held accountable,” he said. (As the heath committee chairman, I will have these investigated. We will summon these hospitals at the right time…)

Go said the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI), Department of Justice (DOJ), and Department of Health (DOH) are ready to conduct investigations of the hospitals that refused to provide treatment to patients.

“Sa ngayon, papaimbestiga rin natin ito sa NBI at DOH Health Facilities Oversight Board. Nagsabi na rin si DOJ Secretary Guevarra na handa silang imbestigahan at panagutin itong mga hospital officials who refuse to provide initial medical treatment in serious or emergency cases,” Go said. (I have asked the NBI and the DOH Health Facilities Oversight Board to investigate these cases. DOJ Secretary Guevarra said that the DOJ is ready to investigate and would hold liable these hospital officials who refuse…)