SP to probe hospital, doctors for “exorbitant fees”

LINGAYEN—The provincial board of Pangasinan is set to conduct a probe on Monday, Dec. 4, after a board member decried exorbitant charges by a private hospital and 3 doctors in Dagupan City which he described as a “robbery in broad daylight.”

Second District Board Member Raul Sison cited an incident in his privilege speech Monday during the provincial board’s regular session which he said “merits an investigation leading to an appropriate legislation for the protection of, not only every Pangasinense but every Filipino for that matter, because it dwells on the fundamental right of every citizen to quality medical attention for conscionable or reasonable doctor’s fees”.

Sison said a certain Arturo Ferrer from San Carlos City this province was rushed to Dagupan Doctors Villaflor Memorial Hospital (DDVMH) on Nov. 22 after his right wrist suffered a cut caused by a tari (gaffs) of a fighting cock inside the Pangasinan Cockpit Arena in Calasiao town.

“In less than 24 hours he was ready for discharge. I was informed of the hospital bill by his wife, I was taken aback. I was shocked. Imagine, for that minor physical injury they were charging an enormous amount. P176,978.18,” Sison said in his speech.

Ferrer’s wrist reportedly required surgery and stitches.

Sison said P137,900 went to three doctors’ fees after deducting PhilHealth fees: anesthesiologist, P42,500; two surgeons, P50,400; and P40,000, respectively, plus Php 5,000 as daily visit fee.

Two of the doctors who attended to Ferrer are reportedly employed by the provincial government, Sison added.

He said unknown to many people, there are government doctors who are engaged in moonlighting, meaning, they engage in private practice while being paid from government coffers.

“The situation is akin to a “robbery in broad daylight” perpetrated by doctors, conspiring, confederating and confabulating with one another,” Sison said.

Sison said he paid the amount “under protest and with a heavy heart”. Ferrer works as a sentenciador in a cockpit being leased by Sison.

“The sad experience maybe a blessing in disguise,” he said, adding that it opened his eyes “to unchecked, hidden, anomalous and unabated practice of some physicians, including hospitals, who impose exorbitant, excessive and unconscionable fees”.

Sison’s request for a ‘Question Hour’ on Dec. 4 in aid of legislation, was granted by the provincial board, to help in the drafting of a resolution “aimed at protecting our constituents, particularly the lowly and needy from merciless, abusive and unscrupulous medical practitioners and reminding private hospitals that public health is paramount. It precedes any form of business”.

Invited as resource persons are representatives from the Philippine Medical Association (Pangasinan chapter), Department of Health officials in Region 1 and Pangasinan, Provincial Health Office (Human Resource), government and private hospitals including DDVMH.

The PUNCH tried to get a reaction from DDVMH management but failed. (Eva Visperas/ Leonardo Micua)

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