hospital like prison

When Hospitals Feel Like Prison

When a hospital feels like a prison it can not be good for the recovery of the patient, and sadly hospitals in the Philippines often feel like a prison.

I have often seen expats post comments like “Just escaped from prison” after they have been released from the hospital, but never really got it until I ended up in hospital myself.

My surgeon told me that I should start walking a lot 24 hours after my operation as it would help the healing, it is also the advice given by the NHS and many doctors around the world.

Wanting to heal as quickly as possible I wanted to take the advice and start walking, however, it was impossible because the wheels on the stand of the IV drip would not turn and it was a struggle to get the few steps to the toilet.

I complained about the wheels on the stand and after a few hours, they replaced it.

So of I head for my first walk, I took just 5 steps outside my room when a nurse confronted me and told me to go back to my room. I tried to explain that the surgeon had told me I should walk but it was falling on death ears. It was not long before 5 more nurses was surrounding me acting more like prison guards than nurses.

I was told I was not allowed out of my room because it was hospital rules.

My first stay in hospital was a few months before and was unexpected, I got rushed to hospital in the middle of the night.

During my first visit, my wife was dealing with the bill and tried to explain to the billing section that because the money was in my UK account she was only able to withdraw 10,000 peso a day, but they did not believe her. It came to the day I was to be discharged and they refused to let me go as there was an outstanding bill.

My wife wheeled me down to billing in a wheelchair, escorted by a nurse as they said I was not allowed out of my room unless escorted by a nurse. It felt like they were worried I would escape.

I tried to explain to billing that if they did not let me go home it was false imprisonment the reply was comical. “Sir it is not imprisonment as we are not a jail or a police station.”

Did they really believe that it is only imprisonment if you were held in a jail or a police station? Yes, they did 20 minutes later they were still trying to tell me it was not imprisonment because they were not a jail.

False imprisonment

If you work in a hospital and the hospital rules make you detain people in any way, such as not allowing them out of their room, keeping them because of an outstanding bill etc you really should know what false imprisonment is, and be aware that no hospital rule overrides the law.

Wikipedia says:

False imprisonment occurs when a person is restricted in their personal movement within any area without justification or consent. Actual physical restraint is not necessary for false imprisonment to occur.

So not letting a person out of his room is false imprisonment.

False imprisonment under Philippines law comes under illegal detention and is regarded as a very serious crime. So for your own sake, if you work in a hospital that has a rule saying patients must not leave their room, you should explain to the management that you are unwilling to enforce the policy and give the reason why.

Back to my Room

Discussions about me not being allowed to leave my room went on for the rest of my stay in the hospital, and the fact I was stuck in a small room started to depress me. This time it was nothing to do with not paying a bill as we were paying as we went, plus the staff in billing had said we were such good payers after my first visit, they were willing to let me have unlimited credit this time.

However, nursing staff continued to treat me like a prisoner and seemed scared to let me out of my room. Day by day I was becoming more depressed stuck in the room.

I was given many reasons why I was not allowed out of my room, most of them were not thought through. When I was on the fire escape “Sir you must go back to your room because of the pollution” Yet the hospital has no air filter system and many doors and windows are open, so it is the same air inside the hospital as it is outside.

“Sir if you are not in your room we will not know where to find you when it is time for your medication” I can tell the time so they only had to tell me what time my medication was due and I would have returned to my room in time.

In most of the world, hospitals have gardens and patients are encouraged to go down to the gardens because it is good for them to get some exercise and not lay in bed all the time. Yet in many Philippines hospitals, they seem to think it is better to confine you to your room.

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