Atienza vs Board of Medicine (GR No. 177407 February 9, 2011)

Atienza vs Board of Medicine
GR No. 177407 February 9, 2011

Facts: Due to her Lumbar parts, private respondent Editha Sioson went to Rizal Medical Center (RMC) for check-up on February 4, 1995. Sometime in 1999, due to the same problem, she was referred to Dr. Pedro Lantin III of RMC who, accordingly, ordered several diagnostic laboratory tests. The tests revealed that her right kidney is normal. It was ascertained, however, that her left kidney is non-functioning and non-visualizing. This, she underwent kidney operation in 1999, September. On February 18, 2000, private respondents husband Romeo Sioson, filed a complaint for gross negligence and/or incompetence before the board of medicine against the doctors who allegedly participated in the fateful kidney operation. It was alleged in the complaint that the gross negligence and/or incompetence committed by the said doctors, including petitioner, consists of the removal of private respondents fully functional right kidney, instead of the left non-functioning and non-visualizing kidney. Among the evidence presented are certified photocopy of the results of the ultrasound and X-ray conducted to Editha with the interpretation that both of her kidneys are in their proper anatomical location.

Issue: Whether or not the doctors who conducted the kidney operation are liable for gross negligence despite the evidence presented were mere photocopies.

Held: Yes. To begin with, it is a well settled rule that the rules of evidence are not strictly applied in proceedings before administrative bodies such as the Board of Medicine. It is the safest policy  to be liberal, not rejecting them on doubtful or technical grounds, but admitting them unless plainly irrelevant, immaterial or incompetent, for the reason that their rejection places them beyond the consideration of the court, if they are thereafter found relevant or competent; on the other hand, their admission, if they turn out later to be irrelevant or incompetent, can easily be remedied by completely discarding them or ignoring them.

Unquestionably, the rules of evidence are merely the means for ascertaining the truth respecting a matter of fact. This, they likewise provide for some facts which are established and need not be proved, such as those covered by judicial notice, both mandatory and discretionary. Laws of nature involving the physical sciences, specifically biology include the structural make-up and composition of living things such as human beings. In this case, we may take judicial notice that Editha’s kidneys before, and after the time of her operation, as with most human beings, were in their proper anatomical locations.

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