Cayao-Lasam vs Ramolete (GR No. 159132 December 18, 2002)

Cayao-Lasam vs Spouses Ramolete
GR No. 159132 December 18, 2002

Facts: On July 28, 1994, respondent 3 months pregnant Editha Ramolete was brought to Lorma Medical Center (LMC) in San Fernando, La Union due to vaginal bleeding upon advise of petitioner related via telephone, Editha was admitted to the LMC on the same day. A pelvic sonogram was then conducted on Editha revealing the fetus weak cardiac pulsation. The following day, Editha repeat pelvic sonogram showed that aside from the fetus weak cardiac pulsation, no fetal movement was also appreciated. Due to persistent and profuse vaginal bleeding, petitioner advised her to undergo a D&C procedure. She was discharged the following day. On September 16, 1994, Editha was once gain brought at the LMC, as she was suffering from vomiting ans severe abdominal pains. Editha was attended by Drs. Dela Cruz, Mayo and Komiya. Dr. Mayo allegedly informed Editha that there was a dead fetus in the latter’s womb, after Editha went laparectomy, she was found to have massive intra abdominal hemorrhage and ruptured uterus. Thus, she had to go hysterectomy and as a result no more chance to bear a child.

Issue: Whether or not petitioner is liable for medical malpractice.

Held: No. Medical malpractice is a particular form of negligence which consists in the failure of a physician or surgeon to apply to his practice of medicine that degree of care and skill which is ordinarily employed by the profession generally under similar conditions, and in like surrounding circumstances. In order to successfully pursue such a claim,  a patient must prove that the physician or surgeon either failed to do something which a reasonably prudent physician or surgeon would not have done, and that the failure or action caused injury to the patient.

There are four elements involved in medical negligence cases: duty, breach, injury, and proximate cause..

A physician-patient relationship was created when Editha employed the services of the petitioner. As Editha’s physician, petitioner was duty-bound to use at least the same level of care that any reasonably competent doctor would use to treat a condition under the same circumstances. The breach of these professional duties of skill and care, or their improper performance by a physician surgeon, whereby the patient’s injured in body or in health, constitutes actionable malpractice, as to this aspect of medical malpractice, the determination of the reasonable level of care and the breach thereof, expert testimony is essential. Further, in as much as the causes of the injuries involved in malpractice actions are determinable only in the light of scientific knowledge, it has been recognized that expert testimony is usually necessary to suspect the conclusion as to causation.

It is undisputed that Editha did not return for follow-up evaluation, in defiance of the petitioners advice. This is as found out is the proximate cause of the injury she sustained.

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