Hospital refuses to treat patient without advance payment

Published by rudy Date posted on March 22, 2011

Dear PAO,
I am writing in relation to our very bad experience when we brought our mother in a certain hospital in Manila, when she had one of her attacks.

We brought her straight to the emergency room where she could be given immediate medical attention. But instead of taking care of my mother, the staff on duty looked for our deposit receipt.

When she found out that we had none, she instructed us to go first to the accounting department to make the necessary deposits.

She assisted our mother only after I got angry and when I told her that what she is doing is against the law. What does our law provide regarding this matter? I know that all your readers will be properly educated through your column.

CFM (Manila)

Dear CFM,
We appreciate the trust that you give to our column in providing our readers information regarding our laws so that they could readily assert their rights when the situation calls for it.

The law applicable in your case is Republic Act 8344. Section 1 thereof makes it unlawful in emergency or serious cases, for any proprietor, president, director, manager or any other officer, and/or medical practitioner or employee of a hospital or medical clinic to request, solicit, demand or accept any deposit or any other form of advance payment as a prerequisite for confinement or medical treatment or to refuse to administer medical treatment and support as dictated by good practice of medicine to prevent death or permanent disability.

A condition will be considered as an “emergency” if based on the objective findings of a prudent medical officer on duty for the day, there is immediate danger and where delay in initial support and treatment may cause loss of life or cause permanent disability.

On the other hand, it will be considered a “serious case” if the condition when left unattended to, may cause loss of life or permanent disability to the patient (Section 2, ibid.).
However, by reason of inadequacy of the medical capabilities of the hospital or medical clinic, the attending physician may transfer the patient to a facility where the appropriate care can be given, after the patient or his next of kin consents to the said transfer and after the receiving hospital or medical clinic agrees to the transfer.

A patient who is unconscious, incapable of giving his consent and/or unaccompanied can be transferred even without his consent provided that it shall be done after the necessary emergency treatment and support have been administered to stabilize the patient and after it has been established that such transfer entails less risks than the patient’s continued confinement.

The receiving hospital, after being informed of the medical indications of such transfer, shall not refuse to receive the patient nor demand from the patient or his next kin any deposit or advance payment. This transfer shall not be construed as a refusal by the hospital if all the aforementioned procedures are strictly complied with.

The hospital or medical clinic, after it shall have administered medical treatment and support, may also cause the transfer of the patient to an appropriate hospital consistent with his needs, preferably to a government hospital especially for indigent patients (Section 2, ibid.).

Any official, medical practitioner or employee of the hospital or medical clinic who violates the aforementioned provisions of law shall, upon conviction by final judgment, be punished by imprisonment or fine, or both, upon the discretion of the court.

A higher penalty will be imposed to the director or officer of the hospital responsible for the formulation of the hospital policy if the violation was committed pursuant to an established company policy of the hospital or clinic or upon instruction of its management, director, or officer of such hospital.

Finally, we wish to remind you that this opinion is solely based on your narration of facts and our appreciation of the same. The opinion may vary if other facts are added or elaborated.

We hope that we were able to address your concern. –Persida Acosta, Manila Times

Editor’s note: Dear PAO is a daily column of the Public Attorney’s Office. Questions for Chief Acosta may be sent to

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