Hospitals ordered to explain reports of allegedly refusing patients for admission during COVID-19 crisis

In a hearing of the Senate Committee of the Whole on Wednesday, May 20, Senator Christopher Lawrence “Bong” Go asked the Department of Health on the status of the investigations on hospitals reported to have refused to admit patients without providing immediate emergency care amid the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic.

“Has the DOH investigated these cases? What is the status of the investigation? Paano po natin mapapanagot ang mga ospital na tinanggihang magbigay ng paunang lunas sa mga pasyente?,” Go asked Health Secretary Francisco Duque III.

Go, also the chair of the Senate Committee on Health, added, “Anong hakbang na po ang ginawa niyo para maiwasan ang pagtanggi ng mga hospitals at maiwasan na merong mamatay dahil hindi nabigyan ng paunang lunas o emergency care?”

Despite the growing threats brought about by COVID-19 outbreak in the country, many Filipinos requiring emergency medical care were reportedly being turned away by hospitals.

“There are reports some hospitals allegedly refused patients to be admitted and provided emergency care. Tulad po ng nangyari nung una sa Nueva Ecija, meron rin pong nangyari dyan sa Maynila, sa Caloocan, dyan sa Rizal Medical Center, marami pa pong ibang cases, hindi ko na po babanggitin isa-isa,” Go said.

The Senator was referring to many incidents reported while Luzon and many parts of the country were under enhanced community quarantine. One of which is a resident of Caloocan City who needed surgery to remove the placenta after giving birth at her own home but was denied admission by six hospitals until she was finally admitted at a public hospital in San Jose del Monte, Bulacan where she was already declared dead on arrival. Another incident also took place in Cabanatuan City, Nueva Ecija where 65-year-old man died after being refused admission by six hospitals too.

A similar incident was 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.

“Republic Act No. 10932 states that in emergency or serious cases, it shall be unlawful to refuse to administer medical treatment. Republic Act 10932 allows transfer of the patient only after the necessary emergency treatment and support have been given to stabilize the patient,” the Senator explained.

According to this law, hospital officials may receive four to six years of imprisonment and/or a fine of P500,000 to P1,000,000 if their refusal of admission was based on a hospital policy.

“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. May parusa tayo para sa mga hospital staff involved at pati na rin sa administration nito kapag nilabag nila ang batas,” Go said.

The Senator previously demanded for an immediate investigation of hospitals that allegedly refused patients after constantly reminding and appealing to the facilities to admit patients as the number of such incidents have been increasing.

“We must hold these hospitals accountable in accordance with the law,” Go said in his previous statements.

He added, “Ilang beses na akong umapela sa mga ospital na huwag itaboy ang mga pasyente, lalong lalo na ang mga nangangailangan ng emergency care.”

Go also emphasized that accepting patients into hospitals is of paramount importance given the COVID-19 situation in the country.

He also reiterated President Rodrigo Duterte’s remarks before describing hospitals as the sanctuary of the sick and which shall accept patients regardless of the ailment. Go added that he strongly supports the President’s stand to penalize hospitals and their management who cannot administer patients requiring immediate medical care and 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 said.

“As Senate Chair of the Committee on Health, kailangan na nating mabigyan ng hustisya ang mga Pilipinong nawalan ng buhay dahil sa kakulangan ng responsibilidad ng mga ospital na ito. Again, they should be held accountable,” Go added.

During the same hearing, Go also asked several government agencies regarding efforts to prevent the duplication of the provision of financial assistance to Filipinos amid COVID-19 outbreak. Go also reiterated the need to establish the Department of Overseas Filipinos and National Task Force COVID-19 Chief Implementer Secretary Carlito Galvez, Jr. echoed his support to the proposed measure. (OSBG)

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