For lashing out at what he considered as malpractices of some doctors at the Philippine Heart Center, Philippine Heart Center (PHC) Executive Director Dr. Manuel Chua Chiaco Jr. has been sued by a private medical laboratory.
Chua Chiaco spoke before the PHC Medical Staff meeting on August 31, where he disclosed that the hospital “failed in its target of increasing outpatient laboratory and diagnostic examinations” and that “it would be a shame if we miss out on our Performance Based Bonus” on account of such failure.
He said one obvious reason behind the hospital’s failure to increase revenues is that “there are doctors who send patients seen in their PHC clinics to diagnostic labs in which they have financial stakes.”
In the United States, it is considered unethical for doctors to refer patients to diagnostic and treatment facilities they own, and doing so “can cause them to lose their medical license.”
Sadly, he added, “in our profession, there is a growing number of doctors to whom the word ethics is unheard of and for whom the driving, motivating force in their practice and decision-making is financial profitability.”
He said he saw two patients recently who presented echocardiogram results from the Premiere Medical and Cardiovascular Laboratory Inc.
He said one patient complained that instead of getting the diagnostic service from PHC, he was asked to get it at Premiere Laboratory which is located behind the center.
When Chua Chiaco asked a doctor why he directed the patient to Premiere, the doctor replied that the private facility offered better services.
He told Dr. Romy Santos to find out the services being offered at Premiere that were not being given at PHC. On further prodding, the doctor admitted getting a rebate for every patient that he sends to Premiere.
A few days later, Chua Chiaco was asked by the Regional Trial Court of Quezon City to respond to the civil case filed by Premiere, which among others seeks payment for “being singled out and discriminated against by Chua Chiaco thereby resulting in revenue losses; for being deprived of the services of consultants vital for its operation as a whole and for besmirched reputation.”
The case is pending.
Chua Chiaco’s speech in August may have stung the doctors but it was welcomed by patients.
“It’s terrible that PHC gives you training, [it provides you]a place to start your practice, a place where your practice has flourished because you have attached the Philippine Heart Center label to your name and prescription pad,” he said.
“And this is how you repay the PHC, shame on you! The least you can do out of a sense of decency, again a word I fear has disappeared from your vocabulary is to help the PHC prosper. Instead you are making bundles at the expense of PHC,” he added.
He reminded the doctors that holding a clinic at PHC is not a permanent right but a temporary privilege. “To maintain this privilege, you are not required to have a minimum number of admissions nor are you obligated to bring in a fixed amount of income to the hospital.”
All that is asked of the doctors is not to commit acts inimical to the interest of the PHC. “What can be more inimical to the interest of the PHC than to have its patients siphoned off to facilities surrounding the PHC that compete with services offered by PHC?” Chua Chiaco said.