Cantre vs Go (GR No. 160889 April 27, 2007)

Cantre vs Go
GR No. 160889 April 27, 2007

Facts: Petitioner Dr. Milagros L. Cantre is a specialist in obstetrics and gynecology at the Dr. Jesus Delgado memorial Hospital. She was the attending physician of respondent Nora Go, who was admitted at the said hospital on April 19, 1992. At 1:30am of April 20, 1992, Nora gave birth to her fourth child, a baby boy. However, at around 3:30am Nora suffered profuse bleeding insider her womb due to some parts of the placenta were not completely expelled from her womb after delivery consequently, Nora suffered hypovolemic shock, resulting in a drop in her blood pressure to 40/0. Petitioner said the assisting resident physician performed various medical procedures to stop the bleeding and to restore Nora’s blood pressure. Her blood pressure was frequently monitored with the use of a sphygmamometer. While petitioner was massaging Nora’s uterus for it to contract and stop bleeding, she ordered a drop light to warm Nora and her baby. Nora remained unconscious until she recovered. While in the recovery room, her husband, respondent John David Z. Go noticed a fresh gasping wound 2 1/2″ x 3 1/2″ in the inner portion of her left arm, close to the armpit. He asked the nurses what caused the injury. He was informed, it was a burn. An investigation was filed by Nora’s husband and found out from the petitioner that it was caused by the blood pressure cuff, however, this was contrary to the findings from a medico-legal report which stated that it was indeed a burn and that a drop light when placed near a skin for about 10mins could cause such burn. Nora was referred to a plastic surgeon from the hospital and skin grafting was done on her and scar revision but both still left a mark on Nora’s arm compelling the respondent spouse to file a complaint for damages against petitioner.

Issue: Whether or not petitioner is liable for the injury referred by Nora.

Held: Yes. The Hippocratic oath mandates physicians to give primordial consideration to the well-being of their patients. If a doctor fails to live up to his precept, he is accountable for his acts. This is notwithstanding, courts face a unique restraint in adjudicating medical negligence cases because physicians are not guardians of care and they never set out to intentionally cause injury to their patients. However, intent is immaterial in negligence cases because where negligence exist and is proven, it automatically gives the injured a right to reparation for the damage caused.

In cases, involving medical negligence, the doctrine of res ipsa liquitor allows the mere existence of an injury to justify a presumption of negligence on the part of the person who controls the instrument causing the injury, provided that the following requisites concur:

  1. The accident is of a kind which ordinarily does not occur in the absence of someone’s negligence;
  2. It is caused by an instrumentality within the exclusive control of the defendant or defendants;
  3. The possibility of contributing conduct which would make the plaintiff responsible is eliminated.

All of these three requisites were present in the case at bar.

Under the the captain of the ship doctrine, the surgeon in charge of the operation is liable for the negligence of his assistants during the time when those are under the surgeons control.

 

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