*Petition for a writ of habeas corpus filed

* Legal Officer Manuel defends city hospital in court

LAOAG CITY, July 4–For the first time since its establishment in recent years, the Laoag City General Hospital here is facing a legal battle in court with a patient who claims she is “unlawfully detained”.

It started this way. The elderly woman patient with an alleged unpaid hospital bill amounting to more than P100,000 wanted to be discharged but the hospital is holding her for apparent refusal to settle her financial obligation.

The patient is confined for treatment at LCGH for three months now after she met a motor vehicular accident in Brgy. Camangaan, this city last March, a report said.

Claiming that she is “unlawfully detained” by LCGH, her family, aided by Public Attorney Office, went to court and filed a petition for a writ of habeas corpus to seek for the immediate release of the patient from the custody of LCGH.

Yesterday, July 3, the Regional Trial Court in Laoag City, held a hearing of the case. Both parties’ legal counsels verbally clashed as they presented their arguments.

City legal officer Attorney Marlon Wayne Manuel, counsel for LCGH, said he hoped the court would take into consideration their defense as it would be a bad precedent if any patient could just freely leave the hospital with unpaid bills as future delinquent patients may also use the same line of argument to avoid paying their hospital bill.

He said that the concerned patient through her family refused to execute a promissory note to settle her hospital bill.

There is a remedy under the law that a patient who can’t pay a hospital bill should not be detained but the patient should execute a promissory note with a co-maker to pay or give a collateral, the city lawyer for LCGH told the media.

LCGH chief executive officer Dr. Francis Dacuycuy said in details that during the three-month confinement of the patient, her relatives insisted on staying at the LCGH private room saying “it’s for their comfort”.

He said that LCGH repeatedly suggested to the relatives to transfer their patient to the charity ward but they insisted on staying in the private room for their comfort.

It was learned the that at least eight doctors are still treating her but they gave no words to discharge her from further treatment.

Media men said the complainants’ PAO lawyer declined to be interviewed but vowed to convince the court to grant their petition for a writ of habeas corpus so that the concerned client-patient is freed from the hospital custody.


LCGH wins the case

Pairing Judge Conrado Ragucos of the Regional Trial Court, Branch 15, Laoag City, has denied the complainant’s petition for writ of habeas corpus filed against the Laoag City General Hospital, court sources said.

The court said the anti-hospital detention law cited by the complainant through her PAO lawyer is not applicable to a patient who stays in a hospital private room, which is now the case of the subject complainant.

The complainant-patient was finally released from the hospital custody after she executed a promissory note with a co-maker. (Tri-Media report)