Dr. Tarcisio and Mrs. Reynes, in-laws of my eldest son, wrote me about the harrowing experience the family went through with the confinement of Tarcisio’s brother, Danilo, at the University of Perpetual Help Medical Center in Las Pinas, Metro Manila.

Dr. Reynes is a retired physician living with his family in New Jersey, USA.  Upon his request, I am giving up this space to his letter with minor editing, to wit:

β€œNotes on the 14-day stressful hospital stay of Danilo Reynes for Abdominal PARACENTESIS, a simple same day Out Patient bedside procedure: 

We had our brother Danilo admitted at Perpetual Help Medical Center, Las Pinas on July 9, 2020 with the hope that he will be relieved from his ASCITES, a condition in which fluid collects in spaces within the abdomen, that can affect your lungs, kidneys and other organs (Online Definition). 

He needed a simple procedure called PARACENTESIS to drain water from his stomach. 

To determine his condition, his Cardiologist, Dr, Nikki Satsatin ordered an Ultrasound, then a CT Scan of the stomach. 

The Scan showed 2 tumors in his Liver, causing the swelling.  

Dr. Satsatin recommended that Danilo should see the gastroenterologist, Dr. Ronald Valero Romero, who should be able to do the PARACENTESIS to relieve him from his Ascites or swelling of stomach.  

On July 9th, the family decided to take Danilo to see Dr.  Romero, and at the time of admission, he had shortness of breath, swelling in his legs and abdomen, and was dehydrated. 

According to the Admitting Physician in the Emergency Department, the chest Xray showed pneumonia. Knowing the history, I doubted the Xray readings and believed his lungs has fluid.  Besides he had no coughing and fever. 

After spending hours in Emergency, he was admitted to the Covid floor, Private Room 615, because they suspected he has Covid-19. The record showed that he was under the supervision of Dr. Romero. After the Covid swab was taken, we were told results might take 4-5 days and that no procedure could be done until test results are known. This news just caused more anxiety knowing that there will be no relief for Danilo’s swelling stomach. 

During the hospitalization, Phaul Vincent, who kept his father company throughout his ordeal gave us updates day and night.  

Several blood and other tests were taken.

IV fluids were administered with antibiotics for the pneumonia. 

His blood pressure and temperature daily readings were normal. Blood culture results on July 10 were negative, signaling no infection. 

As we monitored him, we noticed that each day he seemed to be deteriorating, no longer communicated much when we talked to him. Phaul reported that a few times Danilo experienced shortness of breath that he had to call the nurse. He seemed confused sometimes. He did not eat much, not sleeping well and had diarrhea from the antibiotics.   

A second X-ray taken on July 14th showed no significant improvement after days of antibiotics. 

Covid test results came Negative on the 9th day, July 17th. This time we were informed that a second Covid test is needed before the removal of the fluid from his stomach procedure can be done. Confused with this new development, we tried to seek answers by contacting doctors assigned to his case. It was not easy doing so from our end. 

On the same day, we finally spoke with Dr. Clarina Marc, supposedly a consultant under Dr. Romero. She said she saw the patient and after learning of his Covid negative results, requested that the patient be transferred to a non-Covid ward for the procedure to be done.  Her request was denied by the Hospital Administration.  

We decided to ask our Compadre, Ambassador Reynaldo O. Arcilla to intercede for us.  On Friday, July 17, he called the hospital and spoke to a supervisor about the case.  He pointed out that the delay in treating Danilo’s ascites posed a danger to him and the hospital would have to take full responsibility and become liable if something untoward should happen to him.  The second Covid swab was taken the next day on Saturday. July 18. 

Finally, on Sunday, July 19, Dr. Romero came at 4:00 PM to perform the PARACENTESIS. The procedure drained 5 & 1/2 liters of fluid from the stomach. He said the patient will be discharged soon. 

Results of the third X-ray of the Lungs taken on July 20 came out clear. It was evident that fluid entered the lungs, hence cleared after the procedure.  He was finally discharged on July 22. 

OBSERVATIONS & CONCLUSION: 

Inefficiency/mistakes noted: 

Given the wrong Blood Culture results Rolando Bayani Santos, an infant boy of one month and 9 days, on July 15 instead of Danilo’s. 

Given prescription under the wrong name – Magdaleno Reynes instead of Danilo Reynes written by Dr. Bernardo Carlo #130038. Phaul did not notice the mistake until the Mercury Pharmacy staff inform him that his father could not get senior citizen’s discount. He had to call and ask for a new prescription with correct name. 

Exorbitant fees & charges – some of the charges are as follows:  Doctor’s fee to Dr. Phillip Chan Ong – P3,500;  Dr. Ronald Valero Romero – original charges,  P89,124.00 minus discount and Philhealth = P66,667.34; Pharmacy – P86,624.66; Laboratory – P44,396; CSR Dispensing – P40,695.75; etc.  

Very poor Doctor/patient relations – no communication with patient on the treatment plan.  Relatives had to ask Nurses station how to contact Dr. Romero.  They were told that he was on a 2-week vacation.  He showed up only once during the 14-day confinement of Danilo, i.e., on the day of the paracentesis procedure; yet charged so much money. 

Upon his discharge, patient Danilo got no advice on follow up visits with the doctor, no dietary instructions, detailed explanation of medications. Only the prescription with the wrong name. Patient did not get copies of all tests done (some missing) for future Doctor’s visits. 

We only learned that the second Covid test is Negative on July 24 because Phaul called to find out. The results came on July 21, they did not even have the courtesy to inform us before he was discharged on July 22nd.   

Their Billing Dept. and Discharge procedure were so tedious – after monies were received via Bank transfer around 11:00 AM, the patient did not leave the hospital until 3:30 PM.   

A simple 5-minute bedside procedure that could have been done in less than a day of hospital stay cost us 14 days hospital stay, a lot of money and anguish to the patient and family. We are now worried about the long-time side effects of all the antibiotics (IV & oral) that Danilo was given during his hospital stay. 

This has been a stressful experience for us all, the whole family of Danilo (siblings from Cebu & US) and his immediate family, wife and 3 children. The delay in the procedures just made it more traumatic for us, the immediate family fearing the worst that can happen to their father and husband. It was especially hard on Mrs. Dolores Reynes who is suffering from breast cancer and had no one with her during two weeks of Chemotherapy and depended only on neighbors for support. The two older children who are overseas were very saddened by what their father had to suffer from the delay. 

We are very disappointed and dissatisfied with the Service and Patient management at this hospital!”

Postscript

Just before this piece was submitted early yesterday, I was informed that Danilo had passed away at noon last Sunday.  May God rest his soul!

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