Medical group to probe Arroyo docs over ‘medical certification’By Jocelyn R. Uy
Philippine Daily Inquirer
MANILA, Philippines—The Philippine Medical Association (PMA) is forming an independent committee that will look into a supposed certification by doctors of former President and now Pampanga Representative Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo stating that there are no experts in the country who can treat her medical condition.
In a church forum on Tuesday, PMA governor Dr. Leo Olarte said the committee would find out whether such a document—which he said was spreading false information and could hurt the country’s promotion of medical tourism—existed.
Should the independent body establish the existence of the certification, doctors who issued it may face a reprimand or a revocation of their licenses, Olarte warned at the weekly forum hosted by the Catholic Media Network in Intramuros, Manila.
“We will file the appropriate complaint for unprofessional conduct or misrepresentation,” said Olarte, an orthopedic surgeon and lawyer.
When asked why there was a need to establish the existence of a certification, Olarte said it was crucial since the document carried “sweeping statements” that may “cause a bad impression on the kind of [medical] practice here in the Philippines.”
The independent panel from the PMA will be composed of orthopedic surgeons, metabolic experts and pathologists, Olarte added.
“It is important to the PMA, especially if the certificate speaks about something that is not true and it affects the good name and reputation of medical practice in this country to the extent that it will destroy our promotion of medical tourism,” he said.
He maintained that it was only the PMA, an umbrella organization of practicing doctors in the country, that can issue such a certification and not Arroyo’s doctors. The PMA also maintained that the country had enough experts who could treat Arroyo’s supposedly rare bone disease.
Arroyo last Friday was formally charged by a Pasay Court with electoral sabotage—a nonbailable offense—and is temporarily under “hospital arrest” at St. Luke’s Medical Center in Taguig City.
She was reportedly suffering from anorexia nervosa and intestinal infection on top of her more serious conditions, hypoparathyroidism and cervical spondylosis, for which she wears a neck brace.
Olarte said that while anorexia nervosa can be a grave condition when left untreated, Arroyo’s lawyers can make her feel better. He said the former president’s anorexia nervosa was brought about more by mental distress due to the legal challenges she was facing than her medical condition.
“The cure can come from her lawyers because the emotional distress is [rooted] in her legal problem,” said Olarte, adding that there were many medicines available in the country that could boost appetite for food.
He also made it clear on Tuesday that the independent panel the PMA was forming would not investigate Arroyo’s real condition even if her circumstance was no longer covered by medical confidentiality.
“Confidentiality in our profession is not absolute … in fact it is only applicable to civil complaints,” said Olarte. “If [a patient] is facing criminal complaints the medical confidentiality doesn’t apply,” he said.