President Rodrigo Duterte has signed into law a bill imposing stricter penalties on medical facilities and practitioners who refuse to treat patients in emergency or serious medical conditions without a deposit.
Republic Act. No. 10932, which was signed by the President on August 3, amends Batas Pambansa Bilang 702, also known as “An Act Prohibiting the Demand of Deposits or Advance Payments for the Confinement or Treatment of Patients in Hospitals and Medical Clinics in Certain Cases,” as amended by Republic Act. No. 8344.
The Act prohibits any official, medical practitioner or employee of a medical facility to request, solicit, demand or accept deposit or any form of advance payment as a prerequisite for administering treatment in serious or emergency cases.
RA 10932 defines an “emergency” as a condition or state of a patient wherein there is immediate danger and where delay in initial support and treatment may cause loss of life or cause permanent disability to the patient; or in the case of a pregnant woman, permanent injury or loss of her unborn child, or would result in non-institutional delivery.
Meanwhile, a “serious case” refers to a condition of a patient characterized by gravity or danger that, when left unattended, may cause loss of life or cause permanent disability to the patient, or in the case of a pregnant woman, may cause permanent injury or loss of her unborn child.
Any official, medical practitioner or employee of a hospital or medical clinic who violates the provision of this act shall, upon conviction by final judgment, be punished by imprisonment of not less than six months and one day but not more than two years and four months, or a fine of not less than PHP100,000, but not more than PHP300,000.00 or both, at the discretion of the court.
The Act provides further that if such violation was committed due to an established policy of the medical facility, or upon instruction of its management, the director or officer of said facility responsible for the formulation and implementation of such policy shall, upon conviction by final judgment, suffer imprisonment of four to six years, or a fine of not less than PHP 500,000 but not more than PHP 1 million or both at the discretion of the court, without prejudice to damages that may be awarded to the patient-complainant.
Any medical facility found to have committed three repeated violations due to established policy or due to the instructions of its management shall have its license to operate revoked by the Department of Health. (Cielito M. Reganit/PNA)
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