Baby-taping case ‘settled’-A A +A
Tuesday, July 1, 2014
CEBU CITY -- A committee of government officials recommended the filing of criminal, civil and administrative cases against a hospital whose staff allegedly placed a strip of tape over an infant’s mouth.
The fact-finding committee, in the report it released on Monday, said that the chief nurse, two nurses and a midwife on duty “failed to observe the standard of care required of them.”
But also on Monday, lawyer Cornelio Mercado sent the Department of Health (DOH)-Central Visayas a copy of the “settlement of dispute” agreement signed by the baby’s mother, Jasmine Janice Badocdoc, and the Cebu Puericulture Center and Maternity House Inc. (CPCMH).
The agreement, “in gist, states that the parties ascribe no fault or blame no one for the incident,” Mercado said in his letter to Dr. Jaime Bernadas of DOH, one of the panel’s members.
The fact-finding committee’s report said that CPCMH failed to enforce the standards of newborn care because it didn’t have enough nurses; it said there were only two nurses for 28 babies at the time of the incident, when the ratio should be no more than six babies for each nurse to watch over.
The Regional Subcommittee for the Welfare of Children (RSCWC) released its report close to two months after Badocdoc and her partner Ryan Noval complained that while their baby was in the hospital last May, someone had taped over his mouth.
Their story went viral on Facebook and provoked the inquiry, as well as questions on the standards of infant care.
Lawyer Dante Jadman of the Commission on Human Rights (CHR), another member of the RSCWC, said that once the report reaches the parents, it will be up to them whether or not to file cases against the hospital and some of its staff.
“The time Badocdoc discovered the tape on the mouth of the baby without definite purpose for medication or explanation from the nurses on duty and from the hospital itself is a culpable negligence or medical malpractice,” the report said.
Using a tape to silence a wailing baby may be construed as a violation of Republic Act 7610, the law against child abuse, the committee’s report said.
On the other hand, if the tape was used to hold a pacifier in place, then that would mean the hospital “failed to follow successful breastfeeding policy.”
“With the emergence of four similar cases in public and social media, this would draw an inference that taping and use of pacifier could be a habitual practice of the hospital staff,” the report added.
It said that the hospital’s staff should have anticipated the possible outcome of taping an infant’s mouth.
“There was deliberate concealment of fault or negligence of the staff for failure to report the incident,” the report also said.
Unlike the committee’s report, the “settlement of dispute” does not mention the details of the incident last May. What it does is assert that the amicable settlement “is binding and final to the parties with or without legal assistance.”
It meant that Badocdoc and the hospital “have no more right or cause or causes against each other of any kind or nature (administrative, civil, criminal or special law).”
The document mentions that several meetings took place between Badocdoc and the hospital’s representatives.
“Jasmine appreciates the second parties (the hospital representatives’) help and accommodation on her request for financial assistance. For the record, money is not the motive why Jasmine entered into an amicable settlement,” the report said.
In its report, the fact-finding committee agreed that CPCMH is not obligated to follow the standards of newborn care established by the Philippine Society of Newborn Medicine.
But it must at least look for standards of care and apply these to their system, the fact-finding team added.
They also failed to apply religiously the “no-pacifier” rule, which forms part of the standards set by the United Nations Children’s Fund and the World Health Organization.
“The breastfeeding policy strictly prohibits the use of pacifiers or artificial teats whether the baby is premature or not,” the fact-finding team added.
The fact-finding team also said that the hospital failed to observe command responsibility or to investigate the nurses involved, having relied solely on a verbal report.
“The hospital, being temporary custodian of the baby, exercises control and supervision over his security, health and welfare until medication and treatment is completed. They are therefore bound to treat and protect the child, free from harm and abuse. Failure to comply with this duty constitutes an act of negligence,” the report said.
Even if a settlement had been signed between both parties, the parents can still file a case against the hospital, said committee member Jadman, who works with the human rights commission.
“It’s within their rights to file the case,” he added.
Aside from Jadman and Bernadas, the fact-finding committee included Grace Yana of the Department of Social Welfare and Development-Central Visayas, lawyer Alan Felix Macaraya of the National Telecommunications Commission-Central Visayas, Regional State Prosecutor Fernando Gubalane and Rey Villordon of the National Bureau of Investigation-Central Visayas. (Sun.Star Cebu)
Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on July 01, 2014.