METRO MANILA, August 12, 2003 (STAR) By Sheila Crisostomo  - The Department of Health (DOH) has cleared the Manila Central University (MCU) Hospital and six others of culpability in the death of quadruplets last month.

Results of the investigation conducted by a five-member probe body created by the DOH showed that none of the hospitals had violated Republic Act 8344, or the "No Deposit Law."

Quadruplets Ma. Jobel, Ma. Angeline, Ma. Angelica and Ma. Therese Calisaan were born prematurely at the Espiritu Lying-In and Maternal Clinic in Caloocan City last July 16. Their parents said the shabby treatment they received from hospitals led to delays that cost the lives of their babies.

The mother, Jocelyn, arrived at the DOH yesterday, but refused to talk to reporters.

On that fateful day, the quadruplets were transferred to the MCU Hospital where they allegedly received shabby treatment after not being able to pay a deposit. The girls died at the Dr. Jose Fabella Memorial Hospital, where the MCU had transferred them.

Barlongay noted that there was "no sufficient evidence adduced to prove that the said hospital (MCU) withheld the release of the quadruplets for transfer to another hospital unless the hospital bills were paid."

He added it was only the perception of the father Vladimir that MCU was demanding a deposit because Dr. Grace Navarro, MCUís emergency room and out-patient department resident physician, and other hospital staff, were persistent in collecting their payment.

Before moving to Fabella, MCU reportedly inquired with hospitals like the Philippine General Hospital, Chinese General Hospital, National Childrenís Medical Center, Hospital of the Infant Jesus, Philippine Medical Center and East Avenue Medical Center to transfer the babies.

Panel chairman and retired Judge Samuel Barlongay said that the hospitals did not demand deposits, contrary to the coupleís claim, although the PGH and the Hospital of the Infant Jesus gave their rates for deposits for pay patients since they were asked about them.

The panelís report showed that "none of these hospitals could admit the quadruplets because they did not have available incubators and ventilators."

The panel had, instead, blamed Dr. Francisco Espiritu, the obstetrician of the quadrupletsí mother Jocelyn, for the fate that befell the children. He owns the lying-in clinic where the girls were born.

"The case regarding the Calisaan quadruplets was not an issue of hospitals requiring deposits from their patients but an issue of hospitals and health care providerís ability to render medical attention," Barlongay added.

Barlongay said Espiritu had been complacent in the care of the motherís high-risk multiple pregnancy.

"Anticipatory management was not discussed with the couple. He failed to exercise due diligence, consistent with the standards due this case," he added.

Barlongay said the maternity clinic owned and operated by Espiritu is "far from adequate to handle deliveries."

He said the quadruplets did not have the "benefit of immediate postnatal care" in the lying-in clinic.

However, the mother, who has not blamed the doctor of any wrongdoing, said she went to the clinic on that day for a routine check-up.

The doctor then found out that she was about to give birth. Later, it was agreed that transporting the babies could be risky, according to the mother.

Still, in its recommendations, the panel said a formal complaint should be filed against Espiritu before the Professional Regulation Commission.

The panel also wanted the DOH to adopt the policy that pre-natal care of all multiple pregnancies be done only in health institutions that have the capabilities to handle high-risk pregnancies.

The panel had also recommended that DOH enjoin all hospitals to put on display a copy of the "No Deposit Law" and that this be made a requirement for renewing their license to operate.

Reported by: Sol Jose Vanzi

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