The anti hospital detention law

Topic |  

The anti hospital detention law

Topic |  

jayby Atty. Jay I. Dejaresco

There is a law prohibiting hospitals from detaining patients who are unable to pay their hospital bills, including doctor’s fees and other charges.

This is provided for in Republic Act No.  9439 entitled “An Act prohibiting the detention of patients in hospitals and medical clinics on grounds of nonpayment of hospital bills or medical expenses”

The law is very short and the pertinent provisions states:


Patients who have fully or partially recovered and who already wish to leave the hospital or medical clinic but are financially incapable to settle, in part or in full, their hospitalization expenses, including professional fees and medicines, shall be allowed to leave the hospital or medical clinic.

They have the  right to demand the issuance of the corresponding medical certificate and other pertinent papers required for the release of the patient from the hospital or medical clinic upon the execution of a promissory note covering the unpaid obligation.

The promissory note shall be secured by either a mortgage or by a guarantee of a co-maker, who will be jointly and severally liable with the patient for the unpaid obligation.

In the case of a deceased patient, the corresponding death certificate and other documents required for interment and other purposes shall be released to any of his surviving relatives requesting for the same.

This law seems to relieve patients from the burdens of huge medical bills.

However, there is a caveat in the law.


Those who were confined in private hospital rooms cannot avail of the benefits against hospital detention in case of nonpayment of bills.


Thus if one is confined in a private room in a hospital, he or she cannot avail the benefits against this anti-hospital detention law.

The rationale of this is that if one was confined in a private room, it means the patient could afford to pay the bills.

But this is not what happened to a client of mine.


Her father was confined in a private hospital.

Due to mounting hospital bills, they had to transfer to a less expensive government hospital.


They specifically applied for a ward room due to depleted finances.

But the hospital told them that there was no available ward room.

So they were placed in a private room instead.

When the patient could not pay the bills, they were prevented from being discharged owing to the fact that since they were confined in a private room, the anti-detention law cannot be availed of.

Fortunately, the patient was able to obtain a copy of their application specifically for award room thus enabling them to argue that their private room confinement was not their choice.

So there is a loophole for hospitals.

Hospitals will tell the patient  their ward is full and not available, so the patent will be confined in a private room.

Second, if one looks at the implementing rules, even a ward type room is considered a private room.

Thus even those in a ward type room but considered by law as private, cannot avail of the benefits of the anti hospital detention law.

DOH Administrative Order No. 2008-001 defines a private room as “single occupancy or ward type room divided by either permanent or semi permanent partition (except curtains) not to exceed for patients per room who are admitted for diagnosis, treatment and other forms of health care maintenance.”

So even in a ward type room of four patients per room can be considered private room

Thus a patient confined in this type of room still cannot avail of the anti hospital detention law.

You can expect hospitals to construct their hospital ward rooms to accommodate four patients per room, so this will be considered private room confinement.

Suppose one is confined in a intensive care unit, even if they are four in a room, it can be deemed private room confinement, thus nixing the eligibility for benefits of the law.

So even if there ostensibly appears a law that grants relief for non-payment of hospital bills, the type of room confinement determines eligibility.


One Comment

  1. emerald emerald October 8, 2015

    Paano po sa case ng Tita ko, kasi po yung tita ko dinala sa olivarez hospital in parañaque dahil sa sobrang hirap na po siyang huminga. Ayon lang po kasi yung malapit na ospital samin. sa private room po cia na confined ng 5 days dahil po may tubig ang baga niya tapos my bara pong ugat sa puso nya. Nung nging okay na po siya nilipat po siya sa room na 3 lang sila. After 3 days po sinabi ng doktor na pwede na daw po siyang luamabas ng hospital, pero umabot ng 78k yung bill ng tita ko. na less na po dun yung philhealth and discount,.pero hindi parin sapat yung pambayad nmin. Gustong gusto na po lumabas ng tita q pero ayaw po syang payagan na mag promissory note sa kadahilanang madami na dw po dun ang nag promissory ng hindi nag bayad. Habang natagal po cia ng hospital nalaki ng nalaki yung bill niya. Senior na po yung tita ko gusto na din po namin siya makauwi. Ano po gagawin namin? sakop pa din po ba yan ng RA 9349? Thankyou po ang more power


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