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QC TO PENALIZE HOSPITALS VIOLATING R.A. 9439, 8344

Posters regarding detention of patients on grounds of nonpayment of hospital bills and other medical expenses, and the law that prohibits hospitals from demanding deposits or advance payments for the confinement or treatment of patients will soon be visible in all medical establishments within Quezon City to inform the public of their rights to medical treatment.

This after Quezon City 2nd District Councilor Alfredo Paolo D. Vargas III filed two  measures requiring all hospitals, medical clinics, health centers and similar medical institutions in the city to post copies of Republic Act 9439 which prohibits the detention of patients in hospitals and medical clinics on grounds of nonpayment of hospital bills or medical expenses, and Republic Act 8344 that penalizes medical establishments that refuse to administer appropriate initial medical treatment and support in emergency or serious cases due to lack of amounts for deposit unlawfully imposed on patients.

Proposed Ordinance Nos. 10-123 and 10-124 aim to inform the public of their rights as mandated by law and to ensure that proper communication as to such rights is provided among QC constituents in simple yet effective ways.

According to Vargas, a considerable number of QC residents availing basic health services appear to be uninformed or misinformed as to their rights under R.A. No. 9439 and R.A. No. 8344. Most are unaware that patients who are discharged cannot be detained merely due to non-payment of hospital fees; provided that such patients were not confined in private wards. Most do not know that in serious and emergency cases, the hospital cannot refuse treatment on the mere basis of lack of deposit.

Under these Vargas measures, the posting health institution shall be responsible for ensuring that the posted information are not tampered with, vandalized or permanently removed in any manner. It is the sole responsibility of such institutions to replace damaged, tampered, vandalized or removed posters within a period not exceeding 15 days upon discovery.

To put teeth to the measures, violators of the said ordinances, according to Vargas, shall be penalized with a fine of P5,000 and imprisonment for a period of one(1) year. Violators of such measures may be the heads of the institutions themselves.

According to Vargas, through such simple measures, he hopes that the local government can help alleviate the burden of a number of our constituents, who cannot avail of their right simply because they do not know them.

“Unfortunately, in our great city, not only are the urban poor, financially poor but informationally poor as well. The least we can do as public servants is to tell them how they can make their lives easier and better.” Vargas said. -30- Rico/ Maureen Quinones, PAISO

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