Cebu News

Allegations of neglect: Rough year for Cebu’s district hospitals

The Freeman

CEBU, Philippines – It was a year when controversies hounded government-run hospitals in Cebu.

Especially during the last few months of the year, provincial and district hospitals in Cebu found themselves in hot water due to alleged negligence of staff that resulted to deaths of patients.

It was in September when the first allegations came, when a man who was brought to Barili District Hospital after being ran over by a bus.

The incident was divulged during a press conference of gubernatorial aspirant Winston Garcia. He was then presenting his plans for hospitals and indigent patients.

District hospitals are being run by the Cebu Provincial Government, which is being led by Governor Hilario Davide III, whose post Garcia is contesting in the 2016 elections.

Garcia alleged that the patient’s wife requested for an ambulance to transport her husband, who was already in critical condition, to a hospital in Cebu City.  Hospital management reportedly asked for P1,500 for fuel and allowance of the driver before the victim could use the supposedly emergency vehicle.

By the time the family was able to raise the amount, the patient’s condition has already deteriorated he was already dead when he reached Cebu City.

But Dina Orbiso, administrative officer of Barili District Hospital, belied the report, saying the hospital-owned ambulance was still under repair.

She told The FREEMAN that what Garcia was referring to may be the ambulance owned by the municipality of Barili.

“As far as our hospital is concerned, libre gyud na, labi na og emergency,” she said.

Lapse of judgment

Barely two months after the Barili incident, an incident involving a one-year-old child at Minglanilla District Hospital caused a major social media uproar.

A Facebook post of a concerned citizen alleged that a doctor reportedly ignored the patient’s family since they only had P200 to buy medicines worth P700.

The family was able to purchase the medicines through the help of the concerned citizen but these could no longer be administered since the child’s veins already “collapsed.” The child died due to severe dehydration.

Following the incident, Davide ordered the termination of the attending doctor’s contract and declared that he felt ashamed over the incident.

“Indifference on the part of government employees to the public that we serve has no room in public service under my watch,” he said in a press statement.

In its inquiry, the Provincial Health Office said the doctor committed a lapse in judgment when she “automatically” made a prescription and asked the patient’s family to buy the prescribed medicines when these were available at the hospital’s pharmacy.

Expired medicine

In the same month, another “negligence” case surfaced, this time at the Tuburan District Hospital, where the death of a 39-year-old public school teacher was blamed on an expired insulin administered on her.

The attending nurse allegedly discovered that the insulin was already “expired” only after injecting it to the patient.

Several hours after the insulin entered her bloodstream, the patient reportedly began to experience shortness of breath.

The doctor then decided to transfer her to a hospital in Cebu City. The patient also died along the way.

The Provincial Health Office, though, has not issued any statement yet as to the cause of the patient’s death.

It, however, submitted the expired medicine to the Department of Health for examination to determine if there were already contaminants before it was administered to the patient.

The DOH has not revealed its findings yet.

Barili District Hospital again

A four-year-old boy’s death at the Ba-rili District Hospital added to the woes of the hospital after it was alleged that the nurses were negligent in attending to the child’s condition.

According to the grandmother, the boy experience difficulty of breathing after being hooked to an oxygen tank, prompting her to call the nurse’s attention.

The grandmother said the nurse tried to assure her by telling her that everything was fine and normal.

But the infant’s breathing allegedly became even more labored hours later, causing the grandmother to seek help from another nurse, who allegedly turned her back on her.

The grandmother alleged that it was only after the boy was already very ill when the attending doctor advised that he be referred to the Vicente Sotto Memorial Medical Center in Cebu City, which requires at least two hours of travel from Barili.

The family refused to have the child brought to Cebu City, noting his condition, and instead requested that he be brought to the emergency room. He did not survive.

Amid the controversies faced by province-run hospitals, however, Davide said that death in hospitals is inevitable.

He believed his detractors are just trying to undermine his administration by taking advantage of the deaths recorded at the government-run hospitals and “making issues” out of them.

“Everybody knows nga sa ospital duna gyuy mamatay. Deaths happen. Any death mahitabo, we are always concerned, we symphatize with the families who have lost their loved ones. But we have to check the facts; they are making political capital out of this….

I am sure nga ila ning gigamit to put this administration down,” he told reporters during one of his press conferences.

He said several deaths in hospitals might have been recorded before his administration but were not made public since “nobody took advantage and mad them as political issues.”

He assured that the cases of deaths and alleged neglect are being investigated by the Provincial Health Office, and disciplinary actions are imposed on erring hospital staff.

In Cebu City hospitals, too

Allegations of neglect also hounded hospitals in Cebu City, including VSMMC, to which district hospital supposedly refer their seriously ill patients.

A 23-year-old woman accused the hospital of negligence after her urinary bladder was accidentally cut during a cesarean delivery on November 6.

Jermelyn Bactismo, a native of Barangay Pitalo, San Fernando, Cebu, successfully gave birth to a baby boy at the VSMMC through caesarian section.

Unfortunately, the doctor also inadvertently cut her urinary bladder.

This prompted her live-in partner Leonard Parantar, 29, to file a handwritten complaint before the Department of Health-7 for the “negligent” act.

DOH-7, however, refused to investigate the incident and turned the complaint over to the hospital for its own investigation.

VSMMC has formed an investigating team headed by Dr. Dr. Antonio Roque Paradela. The team, however, has yet to divulge its findings.

Meanwhile, private hospital St. Anthony Mother and Child Hospital was also accused of neglect over the death of eight-month-old Harry Morgan Visaya last June 7. The baby died of severe dehydration and diarrhea.

Parents Marifhe Ylaya and Haryl Visaya filed a complaint against the medical staff before DOH-7, alleging an “apparent inexcusable lack of precaution” on the part of the attending physicians.

Following a fact-finding inquiry, however, DOH cleared the hospital of any liability, prompting Ylaya and Visaya to instead file an administrative complaint before the Professional Regulations Commission, allegedly for gross negligence.

The PRC has not yet issued any statement in relation to the complaint. — / RHM  (FREEMAN)

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