CEBU CITY, Philippines – Two doctors from a world-class hospital here are now facing criminal complaints after they were accused of medical negligence by one of Cebu’s most powerful and influential families.
The Garcias announced in a press conference on Wednesday, December 16, that they have filed formal cases last December 15 against physicians from Chong Hua Hospital who attended to one of their brothers, the late Barili Mayor Marlon Garcia.
This development culminated a months-long tension between the Garcias and Chong Hua Hospital following the deaths of Barili Mayor Marlon Garcia and former Dumanjug Mayor Nelson Garcia who were admitted under the latter’s care.
CDN Digital has opted not to disclose the full names of the doctors until they have responded to the issue.
The family, represented by Governor Gwendolyn Garcia, Cebu 3rd District Representative Pablo John ‘PJ’ Garcia, lawyer Winston Garcia, and the patriarch and former governor Pablo ‘Pabling’ Garcia, accused the doctors and the hospital of conducting fraudulent activities at the expense of Marlon and Nelson.
Both Marlon and Nelson were admitted to Chong Hua Hospital before they died just five days apart last September.
Marlon died last September 6 due to septic shock, secondary to a catheter-related bloodstream infection and ventilator-associated pneumonia while Nelson succumbed to cardiopulmonary arrest secondary to probable massive pulmonary embolism last September 1.
Both also tested positive for coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) but the family, citing medical records, said the infection was not the primary cause of the brothers’ demise.
The Garcias also said their decision to lodge cases against the doctors is just ‘the first of a series of complaints’, and that they are also planning to sue Chong Hua Hospital for damages.
“They are just awaiting the final report of the finding of our medical experts looking into the death of the late Nelson Garcia before they take action on his death,” said lawyer Joan Largo, a member of the Garcias’ legal team.
Chong Hua Hospital, however, denied the allegations hurled against them by the family.
“We categorically deny any irregularities or shortcomings in the way we had cared for the late Garcia brothers, for any of our COVID-19 patients. Our treatment protocols are in compliance with internationally reviewed and accepted guidelines of the global medical community,” the hospital said in a statement sent to CDN Digital.
Unnecessary, expensive tests
Lawyer Winston Garcia, brother of Marlon and Nelson, told members of the media that their family has employed experts in infectious diseases to help them sift through medical records and point out questionable decisions made by the doctors.
Winston said these included unnecessary and expensive laboratory tests made on the two Garcia brothers which do not coincide with the physical condition stated on their health records.
He also said that they believed these were made to justify their brothers’ prolonged stay in the hospital despite being declared to have recovered from COVID-19.
“And this is also reinforced by the insistence of the doctors despite the willingness of my brother (Marlon) to sign the waiver (for discharge),” he said.
In turn, Winston, who is also the chairperson of Cebu CFI Community Cooperative, one of Cebu’s biggest cooperatives, announced that they are planning to permanently suspend the accreditation of Chong Hua Hospital for their healthcare program.
“They prioritized interests for profits instead of saving the lives of the patients admitted there,” said Winston in Cebuano.
Doctors vs. doctors
The Garcias said they decided to seek the expertise of Dr. Ravi Durvasula to ‘evaluate the quality of care’ rendered by Chong Hua Hospital to their two brothers, and ‘subsequently assess it against the acceptable standards of care required by the circumstances’.
Durvasula, according to Largo, is a licensed physician and expert in infectious disease based in Chicago and presently serves as the chairperson of the Department of Medicine of Loyola University Stritch School of Medicine.
But according to PJ, the reason why they decided to seek the assistance of a U.S.-based doctor was, among others, that they found it hard to look for a physician who is willing to testify against fellow practitioners here.
“This is not about looking for experts from another country… but as I said the family is employing experts to get to the bottom. And I understand a lot of doctors won’t provide a statement because it’s very hard for experts in this country…” said PJ.
For her part, Gwen said this incident served as a warning to other hospitals who they believed are involved in fraudulent activities at the expense of their patients for the sake of profit.
“We are hoping this will serve as a warning and we’re hoping there will be fewer people, fewer Cebuanos who needlessly die because of negligence and greed,” said Gwen.
Chong Hua Hospital said they will be issuing their full, official statement in response to the Garcias’ accusations soon. /rcg