Citing incidents where hospitals allegedly denied emergency medical treatment to patients, Senator Christopher Lawrence “Bong” Go on Thursday gave a stern warning to hospitals that refuse to administer emergency care to critically ill patients amid the coronavirus disease (Covid-19) pandemic.
This came after a patient died after reportedly being turned away by as many as six hospitals in Cabanatuan City in Nueva Ecija, while another patient was also turned away by nine hospitals in Caloocan City without receiving any emergency treatment.
President Rodrigo Duterte has instructed the Department of Health and the Department of Justice to investigate these incidents.
Go, chair of the Senate Committee on Health and Demography, echoed Duterte’s remarks that hospitals are the sanctuary of the sick and that they should not choose the ailment of the patient they are accepting.
He also supports Duterte’s stand to penalize hospitals that cannot attend to patients who need immediate medical attention.
Go said “accepting patients into hospitals is of paramount importance”, especially given the Covid-19 emergency in the country.
“Katulad nga ng sinabi ni Pangulong Duterte, hindi maaaring tanggihan ng mga ospital ang sinumang pasyenteng lalapit sa kanila (Like what President Duterte said, hospitals should not reject any patients seeking treatment),” Go said.
He cited Republic Act (RA) No. 10932 or the “Anti-Hospital Deposit Law” which declares it unlawful for a hospital or medical clinic to refuse to administer medical treatment and support to any patient.
“Ayon sa batas, kung hindi sapat ang kapasidad ng ospital, maaaring i-transfer ang pasyente sa ospital na may kakayahang magbigay ng tamang lunas (According to the law, if there is no enough space, the patient can be transferred to another hospital capable of giving treatment),” Go said.
However, the law provides that “such transfer shall be done only after necessary emergency treatment and support have been administered to stabilize the patient and after it has been established that such transfer entails less risks than the patient’s continued confinement”.
“Bago pa man ilipat ang pasyente sa ibang ospital na mas may kakayahang tumulong, dapat ay na-stabilize na muna ang pasyente na ito at dapat ang paglipat sa kanya ay hindi mas delikado sa kalagayan niya (Before the patient will be transferred, the patient’s condition should stabilize first and the transfer should be done properly),” Go said.
He warned that violators of the law will be dealt with and penalized by up to six years imprisonment and fine ranging from PHP500,000 to PHP1 million.
“Maaari rin silang tanggalan ng license to operate ng DOH kung magpatuloy sila sa ganitong pamamalakad (Their license to operate shall be revoked by the DOH if they will continue with this kind of action). The law may be harsh, but it is the law,” Go said.
Go assured that he will have the two incidents investigated by authorities and bring offenders to justice.
“Ipapatawag natin ang mga ospital na ito sa tamang panahon (We will summon the hospitals at the right time) and those responsible for these unlawful acts should and will be held accountable,” the Senator said, adding that the National Bureau of Investigation, Department of Justice and the DOH are ready to conduct investigations of the hospitals that refused to provide treatment to patients.
He said Justice Secretary Mernado Guevarra is ready to investigate hospital officials who refuse to provide initial medical treatment in emergency cases.
“Ipapasilip rin natin sa PhilHealth kung maaari silang tanggalan ng accreditation (We will also ask PhilHealth check if their accreditation can be cancelled),” Go said.
Meanwhile, Go enjoined all hospitals and medical institutions to do the right thing to save the lives of their patients amid the Covid-19 pandemic.
“Nasa sitwasyon tayo na hirap na hirap talaga lahat lalo na ang ating health facilities. Walang bansa ang sapat na nakahanda sa krisis na ito. Kulang rin ang PPEs sa mga ospital kaya nailalagay sila sa peligro sa bawat pasyenteng ipinapasok nila (We are really in the difficult situation specially our health facilities. No countries are ready to face this crisis. No enough personal protective equipment in hospitals that endangers the front-liners),” Go said.