Two doctors and a nurse at the government-run Vicente Sotto Memorial Medical Center in Cebu have been placed under preventive suspension by the Department of Health in Central Visayas for filming and posting a video of a rowdy operation they were involved in on the Internet.
According to a statement issued by Ang Ladlad, the national organisation of LGBT Filipinos, the 39-year-old gay man said he was drunk while his partner inserted a perfume canister into him on New Year's Eve which necessitated an operation.
In the video, a doctor is seen carefully pulling out a 6-inch-long spray canister from the patient as someone calls out, "Baby out!" amid loud cheers and giggles. The doctor then removes the canister cap and sprays the contents toward a crowd of nurses and doctors viewing the procedure.
According to the Cebu Daily News, the trio Dr Phillips Leo Arias, head surgeon of the operation; Dr Joseph Montecillo, assistant surgeon; and nurse Carminia Sapio are among 14 medical staff members who are facing investigation before the Office of the Ombudsman in the Visayas for violating Section 3(3) of Republic Act 3019 or the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act.
The section holds a person liable for "causing any undue injury to any party, including the Government, or giving any private party any unwarranted benefits, advantage or preference in the discharge of his official administrative or judicial functions through manifest partiality, evident bad faith or gross inexcusable negligence. This provision shall apply to officers and employees of offices or government corporations charged with the grant of licenses or permits or other concessions."
The patient, who is said to be a minimum-wage earner in a flower shop, filed a complaint before the Office of the Ombudsman in the Visayas after he found out about the video.
The patient's lawyer Guiller Ceniza says the incident is a gross violation of his patient's right to privacy, confidentiality, and human dignity; and calls into question "the unethical behaviour and misconduct displayed by these medical practitioners over a patient who was unconscious and defenceless."
He added that the issue is further aggravated as the video was uploaded to the Internet.
The patient, who is known a Danilo in this case, has sought P1 million (US$23,400) in moral damages and P5 million in exemplary damages.
Ang Ladlad said in a statement that it welcomed the suspension of the two doctors and one nurse involved in the scandal. Danton Remoto, chairman of Ang Ladlad, said: "This is only the beginning of the end for these callous and inhuman doctors and nurses who turned the operating room of the hospital into a circus. They not only stripped Danilo of his human dignity, but also stained the Philippine medical profession, which has already been besieged by a series of scandals."
The group has also called for the nursing student who allegedly uploaded the video to be barred by the Professional Regulations Commission (PRC) from taking the nursing licensure examinations and for the PRC to look into the revocation of the licenses of the rest of the nurses and doctors involved.