Patients, particularly the underprivileged, elderly, disabled, women, and children, will be provided with more protection under Senate Bill No. 1534 or the Patients’ Bill of Rights and Responsibilities Act filed by Senator Imee Marcos.

The bill seeks to address the perennial problem of patients receiving unjust and unfair treatment and empower them by making them aware of their rights and the remedies available.

In her explanatory note, Marcos said the measure is consistent with the provisions of Republic Act No. 8344, the law that penalizes hospitals and medical clinics that refuse to administer appropriate initial medical treatment and support in emergency or serious cases.

“Every person has a right to a continuity of appropriate and good quality health care without discrimination based on race, ethnicity, gender and economic status,” the bill said. “In the course of such care, dignity, integrity, convictions, individual needs and culture shall be respected and the patient shall be informed of said reason for delay and be treated in accordance with his or her best interests.”

The bill mandates the Department of Health, health care providers, professional and civic groups, media, health insurance corporations, people’s organizations and local government organizations, to conduct and sustain a nationwide information and education campaign to make known to the people their rights as patients.

The health care institutions are tasked to inform patients of their rights as well as of the institution’s rules and regulations that apply to the conduct of the patient while under their care.

“The right of the patient to choose the services of the physician or health institution, including the right to seek second opinion, must be observed,” the bill said.

Privacy as well as confidentiality and the patient’s right to receive spiritual and moral comfort including from that of a priest or minister of the chosen religion and right to refuse medical treatment or procedures which may be contrary to religious beliefs, are included in the bill.

Any official of a health care institution, health care provider, or employee of a hospital or medical clinic found to be violating the societal right of a patient will be punished with imprisonment of not less than six months and one day but not more than two years and four months.

A fine of PHP20,000 but not more than PHP100,000 may also be imposed.

The director or officer of a hospital or clinic 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 between PHP100,000 and PHP500,000 or both. (PNA)