CEBU CITY - Ryan Noval and Jasmine Badocdoc were shocked to see the mouth of their newborn child taped inside a maternity hospital.
“I feel raped as a parent,” said Noval in an interview Sunday. The Department of Health (DOH) Central Visayas is set to conduct an investigation on the hospital.
Jasmine, who would have celebrated Mother’s Day yesterday, didn’t feel festive at all after seeing her son’s condition. After the couple’s son was born last May 3, the child had to stay for a few days in the hospital due to an infection he incurred at birth. Sun.Star Cebu is withholding the name of the hospital pending the comment of its officials.
The couple had to return to the hospital every day to breastfeed their son. But last May 9, the couple was shocked to find their son’s lips taped while sleeping at the nursery. When they asked why the boy’s mouth was taped, a nurse told them the baby was crying too loudly and was always asking for milk.
Jasmine asked the nurse to remove the plaster from her son’s lips. But the nurse reportedly told her to remove the plaster herself. Jasmine was afraid she might hurt the baby. The nurse eventually volunteered to remove the tape herself.
While removing the plaster, a bit of skin from the boy’s lips stuck on the tape, causing the child to cry. The couple wants a clarification from the hospital.
They were initially told by the attending nurse’s supervisor that their son’s lips were taped just so he can suck on his pacifier properly. She also told the couple the pacifier might have fell from the infant’s mouth.
“Was it really necessary to tape my son’s pacifier? What if he choked on it?” Jasmine asked.
The couple also questioned why there was no closed-circuit television (CCTV) cameras in the hospital’s nursery that would allow them to see who placed the medical tape on his son’s lips.
“Ngano mang wala’y CCTV cameras sulod sa nursery? What if naay nurse nga mag-inamaw sulod sa nursery o naa bay aksidente nga mahitabo? Unsaon man nato pagkahibaw kung kinsa ang responsible (What if something happens? How would we know who is responsible),” Noval said.
Outraged by what had happened to their son, Noval and his wife took the matter to the social media.
They posted pictures of their son with the tape on his lips on Facebook. The couple’s posts have earned comments, mostly sympathy for the boy and outrage against the hospital.
Lawyer Elaine Bathan said the nurse’s alleged act is “child abuse in the highest form.” Fellow lawyer Noemi Truya-Abarientos, of Children’s Legal Bureau (CLB), said the nurse and the management “should be made both civilly and criminally liable.”
Abarientos, CLB spokesperson, said they are willing to help the parents if they seek assistance from them. Bathan, Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP) Cebu City president, said the nurse could be charged with violating Republic Act (RA) 7610, or the Special Protection of Children against Abuse, Exploitation and Discrimination Act.
“That (alleged act of the nurse) is cruelty and detrimental to the health and development of the child as provided by the law,” she said. Bathan said the management of the hospital should investigate the incident.
The Philippine Nurses Association’s code of ethics states the “preservation of life, respect for human rights, and promotion of healthy environment shall be a commitment of a registered nurse.”
The code’s section 14 says that nurses should “lead their lives in conformity with the principles of right conduct and proper decorum and project an image that will uplift the nursing profession at all times.”
Violation of any provision of the code may lead to the revocation or suspension of a nurse’s registration certificate.
RA 7610 punishes any person “who shall commit any other acts of child abuse, cruelty, or exploitation or to be responsible for other conditions prejudicial to the child’s development.”
The law defines children as persons “below 18 years of age or those over but are unable to fully take care of themselves or protect themselves from abuse, neglect, cruelty, exploitation or discrimination because of a physical or mental disability or condition.” Under the law, child refers to “maltreatment, whether habitual or not, of the child.”
It includes “any act by deeds or words which debases, degrades or demeans the intrinsic worth and dignity of a child as a human being.”
Presidential Decree (PD) 603, or the Child And Youth Welfare Code, states “every child has the right to protection against exploitation, improper influences, hazards, and other conditions or circumstances prejudicial to his physical, mental, emotional, social and moral development.”
Noval is not contented with an apology and a clarification from the hospital.
“Kung siya kaha matulog, dayun akong butangan ug tape ang iyang nawong, okay ra kaha siya? (If I place a tape on the nurse’s face while she is sleeping, would she be okay about it?),” Noval said.
Noval hopes their son would be better by tomorrow so they can pick him up from the hospital and take him home. Sun.Star Cebu tried to get the side of officials from the hospital, but they refuse to comment.
Hospital officials are set to issue a statement today, Monday. Dr. Jaime Bernadas, DOH 7 director, told Sun.Star Cebu yesterday they will send a team of investigators to the concerned hospital today.
Aside from getting the side of the concerned parents, they also want to know what the officials of the hospital have to say on the matter.
Bernadas said putting tape on an infant’s lips to stop him from crying is not a standard practice. (Sun.Star Cebu)