Doctor defends her right to choose own surgeon
Janet Lim-Napoles, the alleged mastermind of the pork barrel fund scam, was rushed to the Ospital ng Makati on Friday after she complained of pain following her tearful plea to undergo surgery at St. Luke’s Medical Center (SLMC) in Taguig City.
Earlier in the day, she appeared before the Makati Regional Trial Court (RTC) Branch 150 to tell Judge Elmo Alameda she was in constant pain due to abnormal bleeding. She begged the court to allow her to have an operation at St. Luke’s.
“I am suffering. Please have mercy on me. My medicines are no longer effective. If I don’t have this kind of ailment, I won’t beg like this,” she told Alameda.
Dr. Santiago A. Del Rosario, an obstetrician-gynecologist whose opinion had been sought by Napoles’ family to support their contention that her need for an operation was urgent, said Napoles needed surgery immediately and that she had the right to choose the doctors who would perform the operation.
Del Rosario, the chair of the Makati Medical Center’s (MMC) Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, said Napoles also had the right to get a second opinion and seek treatment elsewhere if she felt uncomfortable with her doctors.
Such choice is the patient’s right recognized by “civilized” countries, he said.
Heavily guarded by members of the Special Action Force (SAF) of the Philippine National Police (PNP), Napoles, wearing a blue hoodie, jeans and rubber shoes, arrived in court at around 9:20 a.m.
Her lawyers presented her before the judge to seek favor for her motion asking the court to allow her to be admitted at St. Luke’s.
Napoles claims she is confused about the results of her laboratory tests, conducted separately by the Southern Luzon Hospital (SLH) and PNP General Hospital (PNPGH).
The findings of SLH indicated that the detained businesswoman had an ovarian tumor, while the PNPGH results showed it was a uterine cyst.
Last Thursday, Napoles’ lawyer filed the motion for the court to subpoena her so she could make her appeal.
The prosecution panel, headed by Prosecutor Christopher Garvida, questioned Napoles’ petition, saying they were not informed about it.
Garvida asked for Napoles’ plea to be stricken from court records, but Alameda turned him down, saying he wanted all records to be included to determine the merit of Napoles’ motion to undergo surgery.
If Napoles’ motion is granted, the operation has to be done at a government hospital, Alameda said.
For that purpose, he suggested several government hospitals such as the Veterans Memorial Medical Center in Quezon City, the Philippine General Hospital in Manila, the East Avenue Medical Center in Quezon City and the Ospital ng Makati.
But Napoles’ lawyer Fay Isaguirre Singson did not agree, explaining that her client’s doctors and medical records were at St. Luke’s.
Del Rosario said Napoles’ right to choose her doctors is guaranteed by the Declaration of Lisbon.
He corrected newspaper reports (not in The Manila Times) that quoted him as saying that the heavy bleeding experienced by Napoles could lead to cancer. Del Rosario clarified that abnormal bleeding by itself does not cause cancer but could indicate the presence of cancer, which is why it should be investigated at the earliest possible time.
This is a possibility in middle-aged women like Napoles, he said.
It is not right for the court to limit Napoles’ choices when it comes to medical treatment for this is a clear violation of her rights, Del Rosario said.
He clarified that Napoles is not his patient and he has never examined her. He said he does not have any right to speak about her but did so when her family visited him and sought his professional opinion.
Diana Quintos, a medical technologist, and Romil Aguirre, a physician, from Accucell Diagnostic Center in Antipolo City, also testified at yesterday’s hearing.
They said they did not actually see Napoles when they conducted the test on a blood specimen that supposedly belonged to the businesswoman.
Quintos said the blood specimen, labeled with the name Jenny Tan, was brought to the laboratory in Antipolo by a messenger.
Although they did not meet Napoles personally, they insisted that the result of the blood test was accurate, since it was done using their semi-automated CBC counter.
However, Dr. Perry Peralta, medical director of Ospital ng Makati (OsMak) said there was no urgent need for Napoles to be confined.
Peralta said after Napoles underwent electro cardiogram (ECG), ultrasound and blood test, her condition was found to be “stable.”
After almost three hours of stay at OsMak, Napoles was discharged and brought back to Fort Sto. Domingo in Sta. Rosa, Laguna, where she is being detained.
Napoles has been detained at Fort Santo Domingo in Santa Rosa, Laguna, on charges of serious illegal detention. The complaint was filed by pork barrel scam primary whistleblower Benhur Luy.