Profit-driven hospitals and doctors forget Hippocratic oath

“The Hospital Holiday threat posed by the Private Hospitals Association of the Philippines (PHAP) reduced private hospitals and doctors into mere businessmen who put profit first before public health forgetting their sworn oath to save and protect their patient’s lives from harm and injustice. The statement is a clear indication that private hospitals have become profit oriented – standing to gain from the ailments of its patients.” Edeliza Hernandez, Executive Director of Medical Action Group (MAG) said.

In protest of Republic Act 9439 of the Hospital Detention Law, PHAP threatened to conduct a Hospital Holiday in which hospitals, except the Emergency ward will temporarily close down from once to three times each month until December should the private hospitals negotiation with the Department of Health failed. The Law seeks to ban hospitals from releasing patients on the grounds of non-payment of hospital bills.

“The fears expressed by PHAP over RA 9349’s impact over the private hospitals funds and the Filipino doctors migration are still presumptions. RA 9349 does not cover patients with private rooms, signifying that the law seeks to protect the poor patients confined in the charity ward. For most private hospitals, the cases of admission of poor patients in the charity ward are very few. Private hospitals profit comes from its well-off patients rather than the poor ones.” Hernandez furthered.

Hernandez added that the government should increase its subsidies on public government hospitals such as the Philippine General Hospital to improve its quality of service and accommodate the increasing number of poor patients in need of medical assistance. Tax Incentives for private hospitals must likewise be considered.

RA 9439 or the Hospital Detention Law prohibits hospitals from detaining patients because of non-payment of hospital bills. Patients will sign a promisory note secured by a mortgage or by a guarantee from a co-maker which will be similarly liable for the unpaid hospital expenses.

“We are appealing to the Department of Health to remain firm in its stance in dealing with the private hospitals demands. DOH should protect public health amidst the pressure exerted by the Private Hospitals Association of the Philippines.” Hernandez concluded.

The Medical Action Group, Inc. (MAG) is a non-government organization composed of doctors and health professionals committed to advancing the People’s Right to Health.