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Cebu hospital apologizes for surgery 'spectacle'

April 16, 2008 9:48am

Tags: Cebu City
Sun.Star: CEBU CITY, Philippines - Unethical and scandalous.

That's how several doctors described the behavior of Vicente Sotto Memorial Medical Center (VSMMC) doctors and nurses during the operation to remove a perfume canister from the anus of a male patient.

Doctors involved in the operation were seen laughing boisterously during the operation, which was recorded on video. A video clip was later uploaded to the video sharing website YouTube.

Dr. Emmanuel Gines, VSMMC media liaison officer and emergency room department head, said in a radio interview that they will apologize to the 39-year-old patient identified only as Jan-Jan because of the embarrassment he suffered.

Gines said at least six doctors, including Dr. Ariel Arias, are being investigated. He could not say how many nurses were placed under investigation.

A five-member body tasked to look into the controversy is expected to release its findings this Friday.

Gines, a surgeon, said that taking a video and laughing at a patient while he is being operated on is inappropriate.

"On the question of the behavior of the doctors and nurses, it was really improper," he said.

He said their investigation began even before the scandal came out in the media because the hospital leadership is concerned about the incident. He urged the media to just wait for the committee's report.

While admitting that the incident placed VSMMC in a bad light, Gines assured the public that what happened to "Jan-Jan" was an isolated case that will not occur again.

"We have enforced and strengthened our (privacy) policy as far as the operating room and anywhere of the sections in the hospitals after this incident, especially the banning of cellular phones with or without cameras," he said.

In a separate interview, Basak Pardo Barangay Captain Dave Tumulak said Jan-Jan is bent on filing a complaint and has already executed an affidavit against the doctors and nurses, some of whom were shown in the video.

Jan-Jan will also complain before the Department of Health (DOH), the Professional Regulations Commission, and the Office of the Ombudsman Visayas.

Dr. Wyben Briones, a neuro-surgeon for 30 years connected with VSMMC and hospitals like Chong Hua and Velez, said doctors are bound by their profession to respect the patient's privacy.

In a TV Patrol World report, he said medical practitioners must respect the privacy of the patient at all times.

"For us, that (privacy) is sacred. No doctor or nurse shall announce that somebody is suffering from an illness or that somebody is positive of Aids (Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome)," Briones said.

Briones, who is also an Emergency Rescue Unit Foundation (Eruf) member, said it is really objectionable for somebody to take videos of an operation and upload it to YouTube for all the world to see.

What is acceptable, he said, is for a doctor operating on a patient to allow young doctors and nurses to witness, as long as the aim is to educate them further.

"Di ta ma-doctor kon wa pa ta tudlo-i or wa pa ta mo-agig (we could not be doctors if we do not go through) training. And the Sotto hospital (VSMMC) is a teaching hospital. But what happened here is a violation of ethical standards," he added.

Briones said non-resident doctors and nurses who are not on field duty are not even allowed to witness an operation.

In his case, he said, he only allows neuro-surgeons to witness him treating his patients if it concerns their profession.

As of press time last night (Tuesday night), Tumulak, Jan-Jan and his lawyer were still having a conference to come up with an airtight complaint.

Tumulak said they will also include Dr. Gerardo Aquino Jr, VSMMC chief medical officer, who was in Manila attending to an official business when the operation happened.

Tumulak said Jan-Jan is demanding for the hospital to furnish him the official records of the January 3 operation for easy identification of all doctors and nurses involved.

Dr. Susana Madarieta, DOH Central Visayas director, said they will review the result of the VSMMC investigation to ensure that there is no whitewash. - Sun.Star
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Tags: Cebu City