Health Secretary Francisco Duque on Friday vowed justice for patients who claimed they were illegally detained in hospitals, mostly private ones, owing to unsettled bills.
The Department of Health is currently investigating 77 cases of illegal detention in violation of Republic Act 10932 or the Anti-Hospital Deposit Law, and Duque said they would be resolved by March next year.
“The accused, most of them are private hospitals who refused their patients to leave because they cannot settle their bill,” the DOH chief said.
A source with the Private Hospital Association of the Philippines, requesting anonymity as he was not authorized to speak on its behalf, told Manila Standard the group’s president would most likely talk to lawyer Nicolas Lutero, head of the DOH Health Facilities and Services Regulatory Bureau, on Monday.
The PHAP has a seat on the DOH Health Facilities Oversight Board, which is currently reviewing the complaints, with some being filed in 2018, the Standard source added.
Duque reminded hospitals that they cannot choose their patients, and there is no guarantee that all patients have the financial capacity to pay their hospital bills.
The DOH also clarified the laws do not apply to patients using a private room.
On Thursday in Dagupan City, DOH Assistant Secretary Charade Mercado Grande of the Health Regulation Team said most of these hospitals have been filed with cases in the previous year.
“We are aiming to solve these cases within six months upon filing complaint,” she said.
Under RA10932, which strengthened RA 9439 or the Anti-Hospital Detention Law, advance and/or deposit payments are strictly prohibited for patients who are treated or confined due to emergency and other serious cases.
This also includes the non-issuance of medical services due to lack of advance payment, which could result in the patient’s disability or death.
RA 9439 prohibits the detention of a patient—either alive or dead—who either failed to pay in advance or entirely pay his medical bills and expenses.
Under the law, patients are allowed to be released from hospitals or medical clinics provided they were able to sign or write a promissory note.
“The promissory note may be in [the] form of mortgage or a co-maker guarantee, to which they could also be liable if the patient neglects his obligation,” Grande said.
In a related development, Grande advised the public against buying medicines online as the agency cannot guarantee the safety and quality of medicines bought from online shops, especially when the seller is not registered with the Food and Drugs Administration.
She said online shops should only be used to book orders, and pharmacies should personally hand over the ordered medicines to the customers.
“If we found out that there were violations, we will make a report,” Grande said during the DOH fourth-quarter media forum held here.
She said online sellers must coordinate with the FDA to avoid penalties and jail time. With PNA