House passes bill declaring ‘ghost surgery’ illegal

ghost-surgery

THE House of Representatives has approved on 2nd reading a bill that seeks to prohibit the practice of ghost surgeries by medical doctors and hospitals.

House Bill 6809, which substitutes HB 742, establishes a safeguard to protect Filipinos from the dangerous practice of “ghost surgery” or “ghost anesthesia” in the country by declaring it as an illegal act.

The bill applies to doctors and hospitals that intentionally perform surgeries or apply anesthesia on patients without the patient’s knowledge and consent. It sets penal provision against the physicians and hospitals for any violation of this Act.

The measure empowers the Professional Regulation Commission (PRC) to, upon proper notice and hearing, suspend the practice of profession of a physician, revoke the physician’s certificate of registration, or issue a reprimand for performing surgery and administering anesthesia to a patient without the patient’s written consent; misrepresentation of a physician’s identity; and/or violation of any provision of the Code of Ethics for Physicians as prescribed by the PRC for medicine.

Any hospital or medical facility that violates this act shall also be punished with a fine of not less than P50,000 to P100,000 or suspension of license to operate, or both, at the discretion of the court.

According to Rep. Luis Villafuerte (3rd District, Camarines Sur), one of the bill’s authors, ghost surgery happens when busy and popular surgeons schedule their surgeries in two to three hospitals with an overlapping time frame.

Villafuerte said since there is no way the said surgeon can be physically present in all these hospitals at the same time, he will just take the time to show his face while the patient is still awake before the actual surgery.

“The surgeon then leaves the hospital and the patient meanwhile presumes that said surgeon will be his/her operating surgeon not knowing and without his consent that a different doctor will do the operation on the patient,” Villafuerte said.

Villafuerte said another method in which ghost surgery is carried out is when an attending doctor who is not a surgeon admits a patient for surgery in a hospital but it will be a surgeon-colleague or a resident surgeon who will do the actual surgery. The attending surgeon and the operating surgeon will then split the doctor’s fees, Villafuerte said.

Likewise, any well-known and busy anesthesiologist can be guilty of practicing ghost anesthesia, Villafuerte said adding that fee-splitting is widely practiced in this case.

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