PGH demands apology from Ramon Tulfo

MANILA, Philippines – The Philippine General Hospital (PGH) demanded a public apology from broadcaster and columnist Ramon Tulfo for his allegedly "unacceptable and unbecoming" behavior that disrupted emergency room (ER) operations in the PGH.

"We condemn in the strongest terms the behavior of Mr Tulfo as completely unacceptable and unbecoming especially from a supposedly veteran journalist seeking help for the victim his vehicle had bumped," said PGH spokesperson Dr Jonas del Rosario in a statement sent to Rappler on Sunday, August 19. 

Rappler is still trying to reach Tulfo for comment as of posting time. His latest Facebook post maintained he was only concerned about the victim, a 6-year-old girl.

In its statement, PGH also demanded that Tulfo take down the video of his "PGH experience," which has over 741,000 views as of posting time. In the video, Tulfo is overheard hurling expletives at the doctor as he demanded priority for the 6-year-old girl his driver accidentally bumped. (READ: UP Manila academic employees' union slam Ramon Tulfo for 'abusive behavior')

Tulfo brought the child to the PGH emergency room after she was hit as their vehicle navigated a congested street in Navotas on August 15. Tulfo complained that the doctor supposedly did not want to give the child first-aid treatment and did not want the incident recorded on video.

But PGH slammed Tulfo, saying "at no point" was necessary medical intervention withheld from the victim when at the Triage of the PGH's emergency room. 

"If ever there was any disruption in service to the victim, it was directly caused by the behavior of Mr Tulfo," PGH said.

The hospital had conducted its own investigation into the incident and added the actions and abusive language of Tulfo compromised the performance of ER services in the hospital, as well as the efficiency of its medical personnel.

"The incident could have been an outright endangerment of the lives of the patients had there been those in a life or death situation. It was only by the providence of God that there was no such case at that precise moment," PGH said.

Legal action

The hospital added the doctor's strict implementation of PGH's policy against video recording is in line with the right to privacy of the victim, who is a minor, and her mother who had gone with her, as stated in the Data Privacy Act.

PGH also said it found out the video was done without the written informed consent of the victim's mother, and "was of no benefit to the victim whose primary need of the moment was medical assistance."

PGH said it will stand by the doctor whom Tulfo shouted and cursed at several times, and even gave the "dirty finger" to, if he decides to file a case against Tulfo.

PGH said it will leave to its lawyers "further legal implications" of Tulfo's video on social media, which it maintained was illegal.

In a Facebook post on Saturday, however, Tulfo said he and his team initially planned to record the child's condition – not the doctor from PGH – for future legal reference.

He then stressed that "the doctor refused to look over the patient, driving me to get upset," and that anyone in his position would have felt the same. 

"Hindi ko kaanu-ano ang bata, pero nagmalasakit ako sa kanya," he said (I'm not related to the child, I was concerned for her.)

PGH Director Dr Gerardo Legaspi earlier requested Tulfo not to post the video on his Facebook page until its investigation was complete. However, PGH said Tulfo refused and informed Legaspi several hours later that the video had gone "viral."

They added the video violated the Code of Ethics of Media Practitioners as the face of the victim was displayed publicly without consent and "and with the obvious displeasure of the minor and guardian."

The hospital assured the public the victim was discharged after a day in the hospital and that all necessary medical procedures were performed, including a cranial CT scan. PGH said the child was well and stable and suffered only minor abrasions.

PGH also wished to deter "influential and powerful people from acting in a similar manner," and said the primary purpose of PGH is to save lives, which is "difficult and often daunting" considering the lack of adequate facilities in PGH.

They added, "In this, our doctors are committed in dedicating their lives. It is our duty to defend against all who attempt to undermine this goal." – Rappler.com

Sofia Tomacruz

Sofia Tomacruz covers foreign affairs, the overseas Filipino workers, and elections. She also writes stories on the treatment of women and children. Follow her on Twitter @sofiatomacruz. Email her at sofia.tomacruz@rappler.com.

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