This question was thrown on me recently by a newbie colleague who was agonizing on whether or not to charge patients for an additional procedure he did to address a complication. I instantly went blank thinking what to say.
In the field of medicine or at least here in the Philippines, there’s really no hard and fast rules on charging professional fees for services rendered to patients. This service for fee setup of our healthcare system is somewhat messy and often embarrassing to patients and doctors alike. The price haggling is totally unnerving. Sadly, this is what plague the professional practice of most physicians here in the Philippines.
Such charging “grey” is even more embarrassing in cases where patients entailed additional services outside of their routine or planned operative procedure. While explaining and appraising procedure risks and complications to patients is a requisite of any informed consent, most patients still think that additional procedures, should be an additional work for the physician and the healthcare providers alone. Patients or their financiers are not obliged to pay the healthcare providers for the services rendered for these additional procedures. Wherever, that notion came from, the stress on the attending physician(aside from that of managing the complication) is enormous, working on a very limited logistics to address complications. Besides, Docs have mouths to feed too.
This situation is akin to the “heroic” services rendered by physicians to dying patients. Just because the patient dies (despite the doctors valiant efforts to revive the patient), the fees for the physician’s services (resuscitation) does not “die” with the patient too. Services rendered have to be paid even if the service given did not achieve its original goal (that of reviving the patient). Can this situation be applied to procedures done to address morbidities?
What do you think??