AFTER repeatedly reminding and appealing to hospitals not to refuse to administer emergency care to patients amid the ongoing coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak in the country, Senator Christopher Lawrence “Bong” Go is demanding concerned agencies to conduct an immediate investigation on the increasing number of these cases and hold those hospital officials accountable in accordance to 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.
Senator Go 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. He also said that he strongly supports the President’s stand to penalize hospitals that cannot attend to patients who need immediate medical attention.
“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,” the Senator added.
There is a recent report of a woman in Caloocan City who died during childbirth after being turned away by six hospitals citing 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.
“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.
The Senator emphasized that Republic Act No. 10932 or the “Anti-Hospital Deposit Law” declares it as unlawful for a hospital or clinic to refuse patients and administer medical treatment and support. Go added that the law states that a transfer to another hospital or facility can only be done after necessary emergency treatment has been administered to the patient and that the patient is already in a stable condition.
“May batas tayo na naglalatag kung ano ang dapat gawin ng mga ospital. Mandato ninyo na sagipin ang buhay ng bawat taong hihingi sa inyo ng tulong,” Go stressed.
According to the law, if the refusal to accept is based on a hospital policy, officials of that hospital may receive four to six years of imprisonment and/or a fine of P500,000 to P1,000,000.
“May parusa tayo para sa mga hospital staff involved at pati na rin sa administration nito kapag nilabag nila ang batas,” he added.
The law also provides that “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,” Go said.
Earlier, at least three Filipino patients died after reportedly being refused treatment by various hospitals. A pregnant woman in Manila died after being turned down by four medical hospitals while another patient expired after reportedly being turned away by as many as six hospitals in Cabanatuan City in Nueva Ecija. 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 of 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.
As Senate Committee on Health and Demography Chair, 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 will 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,” the Senator said, adding that the National Bureau of Investigation, Department of Justice and Department of Health 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.