(Here’s the article written by reporter Nancy R. Cudis and published in sun.Star Cebu on April 15, 2008.)
A 39-year-old homosexual is planning to sue a medical team after he saw in a cellular phone of a friend last Friday a circulated video footage of the operation to extract a perfume canister stuck in his anus during a sexual act.
The operation on the man, who only wants to be identified as “Jan-Jan,” was done at the Vicente Sotto Memorial Medical Center (VSMMC) last Jan. 3 yet, but the video footage has been circulating through cell phones since then and was even uploaded in the video-sharing web site, YouTube.
“I trusted them. And yet they ridiculed me behind my back…Was that something a professional would do? I can’t even walk the streets without being laughed at by neighbors. I want my ordeal to end. And I hope it doesn’t happen to anyone else,” Jan-Jan told Sun.Star Cebu in Cebuano.
The video that runs for two minutes and 28 seconds shows an operating team of more than 10 people laughing, with someone shouting instructions while the operation was going on.
It captures individuals with mobile phones and cameras taking footage of the operation. A brief panning motion shows some of the faces of the people involved in the procedure.
Loud cheering and shouting can be heard as the canister that someone describes as a “baby” is slowly pulled out of the anus. One of the staff even opens the perfume and sprays it around.
All the time, the patient whose face is not visible in the video, is unconscious.
Dr. Emmanuel Gines, VSMMC spokesperson, said a committee that has been looking into the case since before the Holy Week is still “wrapping” up its probe and may come up with a recommendation this week or early next week.
“I can’t elaborate on the investigation as it is not yet on official paper. So let’s just wait. After the video came out, we enforced stricter implementation of policies such as the prohibition of cameras inside the operating room,” he said.
There are “rare” cases though that may be documented but should be “balanced” with patient-doctor confidentiality, he said.
Gines admitted there were also nursing students involved.
“We already informed the schools and there were sanctions separately done by those schools,” he said.
He said Jan-Jan’s doctor and the others involved in the operation are still employed at VSMMC, pending result of the investigation.
Department of Health (DOH) 7 officer-in-charge Dr. Angelita Salarda said that there should be respect for human dignity.
“The patient-doctor confidentiality is part of the code of ethics of a medical practitioner. The patient has the right to privacy,” she said.
Salarda explained that she could not yet comment on the issue because the health agency is waiting for the complaint to be submitted to them.
“From interviewing the patient or complainant concerned, we can assess the jurisdiction of DOH on the matter,” she said, adding that DOH is more on licensing medical institutions according to service capability, equipment, physical plant, and personnel.
Salarda said they will coordinate with the Professional Regulations Commission (PRC) and the Philippine Civil Service Commission on what to do once they get the patient’s complaint.
PRC 7 officer-in-charge Dan Malayang said they can investigate the matter once they get the complaint. They can also reprimand those involved or suspend or revoke their licenses if proven guilty, he added.
“Jan-Jan” sought the help of Basak-Pardo Barangay Captain Dave Tumulak, who promised to assist him in first submitting letters of complaint to the DOH, PRC, Sen. Miriam Santiago and to the VSMMC before going to court.
“People trust their doctors. The behavior as shown in the video is unfair to other doctors who religiously follow their oath and they are destroying the reputation of government service,” Tumulak said.
When he saw the footage, Jan-Jan knew he was the patient from the brand and color of the spray canister. His family also recognized that it was him.
He told Tumulak that the only reason he came forward was to teach doctors, nurses and nursing students a lesson.
Jan-Jan is the sixth in the family of eight siblings. He resides in Barangay Basak-Pardo.
He admitted that last Dec. 31, he had sex with a man who ended up “making fun” of him. The following day, he woke up to a pain in his rectal area and below the stomach, prompting him for a physical check-up at the VSMMC.
After laboratory tests showed a spray canister up his anus, the doctor advised him to get an operation to have it taken out.
The patient recalled signing a paper without being properly informed about it and of asking the doctor to only allow members of the operating team inside the room.
“He only laughed. It was very humiliating. It was like a scene from the Carbon market,” he said in Cebuano.
Before losing consciousness from the anesthesia, he remembered someone tying his hands to the bedpost because he was so noisy and restless.
On Jan. 5, when Jan-Jan was scheduled to be released, his doctor approached him and asked if he wanted to earn money by uploading the video taken during his operation on YouTube. Ashamed with what had happened, he refused.
The video was reportedly uploaded on YouTube last February. When Sun.Star checked the site, the video could not be found.
When he also asked for a complete copy of his medical records, Jan-Jan was not given any because he was told they were used for a medical case study.
What he has and what he showed to Tumulak is a copy of a medical form that was issued by his doctor for a follow-up checkup with a psychiatrist last Jan. 18.
Jan-Jan failed to see the psychiatrist because he could not locate the office. He also showed Tumulak the discharge order from his doctor.