Healthcare Blog of Dr. Remo Aguilar

When patients leave without paying their hospital bills…

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All the hospital and the health care practitioner can do is to consider him/her (the patient’s bills)  “lost income” and deduct it from your gross income for that year. That’s what Magna Carta of  Patient‘s Rights and Obligations of 2008 tells us health care practitioners and institution should do. This  law sponsored by Sen. Pia Cayetano and passed in the 14th Congress says:

Title 111: Declaration of Rights
Sec. 4. The Rights of Patients….

(9) Right to Leave. – The patient has the right to leave a hospital or any other
health care institution regardless of his physical condition: Provided, That
a) he/she is informed of the medical consequences of his/her decision;
b) he/she releases those involved in his/her care from any obligation relative to the
consequences of his decision;
c) his/her decision will not prejudice public health and safety.
No patient shall be detained against his/her will in any health care institution on
the sole basis of his failure to fully settle is financial obligations. However, he/she
shall only be allowed to leave the hospital provided appropriate arrangements have
been made to settle the unpaid bills
: Provided, farther, that unpaid bills of
patients shall be considered as lost income by the hospital and health care
provider/practitioner and shall be deducted from gross income as income loss for
that particular year. (italics and highlights mine)


The law clearly says health care practitioners or institutions cannot hold a patient from leaving provided proper arrangements have been made to settle the unpaid bills.  Hope this answers the queries made to me before. I’m not a law expert but clarifying provision (in italics) is rather vague. The operational definition “arrangements” and how to go enforcing it is not also defined in the provisions. Hopefully, the implementing rules and guidelines answers this all.

If you are the health care practitioner, what would you do to patients who leave your service without paying their bills? Leave a comment below and I’m definitely interested to know.

(To get a full copy of the Magna Carta of Patient’s Rights and Obligations , click here (You’ll need a PDF reader like Acrobat))

Dr. Remo-tito Aguilar co-founded #HealthXPh. A board certified orthopedic surgeon, he is Chief of Clinics at General Santos Medical Center and Medical Specialist II Orthopedics at the Southern Philippines Medical Center in Davao City. Dr. Aguilar is a healthcare social media evangelist and writes his medical musings at The Cast & Curious (www.remomd.com).

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