President Rodrigo Duterte on Monday evening issued a stern warning against hospitals that refuse admission to critically ill patients amid the new coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic.
Duterte was apparently bothered by a report that a critically ill patient died after being turned away by as many as 6 hospitals in Cabanatuan City in Nueva Ecija.
“Alam ninyo mali 'yan. So ‘pag totoo 'yan, I will really ask the Justice Department to prosecute you. Kasi alam niyo na hindi puwede 'yan,” Duterte said in his televised address.
“Especially the government hospital, you could just have looked for a house diyan, or kuwarto adjunct sa hospital at i-sanitize na ninyo at doon niyo na nilagay. Paano yung mga Pilipino na ganun?”
Duterte also threatened to relieve the entire personnel of hospitals that will be found to be responsible of such acts.
“Lahat ng magkasakit… heart attack, appendicitis, pumutok 'yung utak, especially government hospitals, my order is must accept admission. You fail on that, I will relieve all of you sa hospital. And you can consider yourself suspended, because the written order will follow,” Duterte said.
According to Republic Act No. 8344 Section 1, it is unlawful for any employee of a hospital to refuse to administer medical treatment in emergency or serious cases.
The law also states that hospitals are only allowed to refer patients to other medical facilities if they have inadequate medical capabilities to treat the ill.
Additionally, Republic Act No. 10932 or the Anti-Hospital Deposit Law backs the earlier law and imposed a higher penalty for medical practitioners or facilities who refuses to administer appropriate initial medical treatment in emergency or serious cases.
Meanwhile, the Department of Health (DOH) and East Avenue Medical Center have also rejected allegations that there is an order to halt the counting of COVID-19 fatalities.
“We have not issued any policy or instruction for non-reporting of deaths,” Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire told ABS-CBN News.
In a tweet, DOH chief Francisco Duque III said their department "did not and will never issue a directive for hospitals to conceal the number of COVID-19 deaths."