Dela Torre vs Imbuido (GR No. 192973 September 29, 2014)

Dela Torre vs Imbuido
GR No. 192973 September 29, 2014

Facts: At around 3:00pm of February 3, 1992, Carmen was brought to Divine Spirit General Hospital’s operating room for her caesarian section operation, which was to be performed by Dr. Nestor. By 5:30pm, of the same day, Pedrito was informed by his wife’s delivery of a baby boy. In the early morning of February 4, 1992, Carmen experienced abdominal pains and difficulty in urinating. She was diagnosed to be suffering from urinary tract infection (UTI), and was prescribed medication by Dr. Norma. On February 10, 1992, Pedrito noticed that Carmen’s stomach was getting bigger, but Dr. Norma dismissed the patient’s condition as mere fratulence. When Carmen’s stomach still grow bigger despite medications, Dr. Norma advised Pedrito of the possibility of a second operation on Carmen. Dr. Norma, however, provided no details on its purpose and the doctor who would perform it. At around 3:00pm on February 12, 1992 Carmen had her second operation. Later in the evening, Dr. Norma informed Pedrito that “everything was going on fine with his wife.” The condition of Carmen, however, did not improve. It instead worsened that on February 13, 1992, she vomited dark red blood. At 9:30pm of the same day, Carmen died. Per her death certificate upon information provided by the hospital, the immediate cause of Carmen’s death was cardio-respiratory arrest secondary to cerebro vascular accident, hypertension and chronic nephritis induced by pregnancy. An autopsy report prepared by Dr. Partilano, medico-legal officer designate of Olongapo City, however, provided that the cause of Carmen’s death was shock due to peritonitis severe with multiple intestinal adhesions; status post caesarian section and exploratory laparotomy. Pedrito claimed in his complaint that the respondents failed to exercise the degree of diligence required of them as members of the medical profession, and were negligent for practicing surgery on Carmen in the most unskilled, ignorant, and cruel manner.

Issue: Whether or not respondents were liable for medical malpractice that resulted to Carmen’s death.

Held: No. Medical malpractice or, more appropriately, medical negligence, is that type of claim which a victim has available to him or her to redress a wrong committed by a medical professional which has caused bodily harm. In order to successfully pursue such a claim, a patient, or his or her family as in this case, must prove that healthcare provider, in most cases, a physician, either failed to do something which a reasonably prudent health care provider would have done, or that he or she did something that a reasonably prudent provider would not have done; and that failure or action caused injury to the patient.

Four essential elements must be established namely: 1.) duty; 2.) breach; 3.) injury and 4.) proximate causation. All four elements must be present in order to find the physician negligent and thus, liable for damages.

For the trial court to give weight to Dr. Partilano’s report, it was necessary to show first Dr. Partilano’s specialization and competence to testify on the degree of care, skill and diligence needed for the treatment of Carmen’s case. Considering that it was not duly established that Dr. Partilano practiced and was an expert on the fields that involved Carmen’s condition, he could not have accurately identified the said degree of care, skill and diligence and the medical procedure, that should have been applied.

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