Bondoc vs Mantala (GR No. 203080 November 12, 2014)

Bondoc vs Mantala
GR No. 203080 November 12, 2014

Facts: Respondent was admitted at the Oriental Mindoro Provincial Hospital (OMPH) on April 3, 2009, at around 11:00am, with referral from the Bansud Municipal Health Office. She was due to deliver her 5th child and was advised for a caesarian section because her baby was big and there was excessive amniotic fluid in her womb. She started to labor at 7:00am and was initially brought to the Bongabon Health Center. However, said health center also told her to proceed directly to the hospital. In her complaint-affidavit, respondent alleged that inside the delivery room of OMPH, she was attended to by petitioner who instructed the midwife and two younger assistants to press down on respondent’s abdomen and even demonstrated to them how to insert their fingers into her vagina. Thereafter, petitioner went out of the delivery room and later, his assistants also left. After hours of being in labor, respondent pleaded for a caesarian section. The midwife and the younger assistants pressed down on her abdomen causing excruciating pains on her ribs and made her very weak. They repeatedly did this pressing until the bay and placenta came out. When she regained consciousness, she was already at the recovery room, she learned that an operation was performed on her by petitioner to removed her ruptured uterus but what depressed her most was her stillborn baby and the loss of her reproductive capacity. The respondent noticed that her vulva swollen and there is an open wound which widened later on and was re-stitched by petitioner. Petitioner was heard uttering words unbecoming of his profession pertaining to the respondent’s states while in labor. Respondent filed then a complaint for grave misconduct against the petitioner before the ombudsman. The petitioner resigned as medical officer of OMPH, alleging that the complaint against him is now moot and academic.

Issue: Whether or not petitioner’s conduct during the delivery of respondent’s baby constitute grave misconduct.

Held: Yes. Misconduct is defined as a transgression of some established and definite rule of action, more particularly unlawful behavior or gross negligence by a public officer, a forbidden act, a dereliction of duty, willful in character, and implies wrongful intent and not mere error in judgement. It generally means wrongful, improper or unlawful conduct motivated by a premeditated, obstinate or intentional purpose. The term, however does not necessarily imply corruption or criminal intent. To constitute an administrative offense, misconduct should relate to or be connected with the performance of the official functions and duties of a public officer. On the other hand, when the elements of corruption, clear intent to violate the law or flagrant disregard of established rule are manifest, the public officer shall be liable for grave misconduct.

In deliberately leaving the respondent to a midwife and two inexperienced assistants despite knowing that she was under prolonged painful labor and about to give birth to a macrosomic baby by vaginal delivery, petitioner clearly committed a dereliction of duty and a breach of his professional obligations. The gravity of respondent’s conditions is highlighted by the expected complications she suffered – her stillborn baby, a ruptured uterus that necessitated the immediate surgery and blood transfusion and vulvar hematomas.

Article II section 1 of the code of medical ethics of the medical profession in the Philippines states: A physician, should attend to his patients faithfully and conscientiously. He should secure fore them all possible benefits that may depend upon his professional skill and care. As the sole tribunal to adjudge the physician’s failure to fulfill his obligation to his patient is, in most cases, his own conscience, violation of this rule on his part is discreditable and inexcusable.

A doctor’s duty to his patient is not required to be extraordinary. The standard contemplated for doctors is simply the reasonable coverage merit among ordinarily good physicians i.e. reasonable skill and competence. Even by this standard, petitioner fill short when he routinely delegated an important task that requires his professional skill and competence to his subordinates who have no requisite training and capability to make crucial decisions in difficult child births.

A physician should be dedicated to provide competent medical care with full professional skill and accordance with the current standards of care, compassion, independence, and respect for human dignity.

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