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Davao City, Philippines

Go pushes DOH to probe hospitals allegedly refusing to admit patients

May 21, 2020 - Thursday 8:05 PM by Ruth Palo

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DAVAO CITY — Senator Christopher Lawrence Go urged the Department of Health (DOH) to pursue the investigation on on hospitals reported to have refused to admit patients without providing immediate emergency care amid the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic, saying hospital officials should be held accountable for the alleged practice.

In a hearing of the Senate Committee of the Whole on Wednesday, May 20, Go asked the DOH for the status of the investigation.

“Has the DOH investigated these cases? What is the status of the investigation? How can we hold the hospitals accountable for refusing to give aid to patients?” Go asked Health Secretary Francisco Duque III.

Go, who chairs of the Senate Committee on Health, also asked Duque what steps have been taken to prevent hospitals from refusing patients.

“There are reports some hospitals allegedly refused patients to be admitted and provided emergency care. There were reports of this in Nueva Ecija, then in Manila, Caloocan, at the Rizal Medical Center, and many more cases that I will not enumerate anymore,” he said.

The Senator was referring to incidents such as that of 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 a 65-year-old man died after being refused admission by six hospitals.

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.

Go cited Republic Act No. 10932 which 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,” he said.

Go said 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.

Go had previously demanded 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.

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

"I know we are all being pushed against the wall by the health crisis. We lack equipment in our hospitals like personal protective equipment (PPE). Most of our health facilities have already exceeded their capacity, but this is no reason not accept those who need immediate attention,” he said.

“As Senate Chair of the Committee on Health, I want to give justice to the Filipinos who lost their lives because of some hospitals’ lack of responsibility. Again, they should be held accountable,” he added.