23 June 2007


I read this story about the children of a woman who died and sued her doctors for the"untimely death."

Negligence on the part of the doctors seems to be the culprit of all the troubles. They operated on the woman and left a gauze, which caused infection and resulted in death afterwards.
After undergoing cobalt therapy at the Rizal Pasig Hospital a month after the operation, the Rodriguez family noticed fluid seeping from their mother's lower jaw, which they initially thought to be just a pimple.

However, the victim's family were shocked to discover that the portion of her skin began to reveal a strand of the gauze used during her operation.

The Rodriguez children sought P500,000 in actual damages for the defendants' negligence; P150,000 in moral damages for "sleepless nights, serious anxiety, wounded feelings, and moral shock"; and P100,000 in exemplary damages "in order that the acts of the defendants would not be emulated by others."

More than half a million pesos will not bring back their dead mother back to life. P150,000 is not enough payment for sleepless nights and sadness caused, and certainly, a mere P100,000 penalty to dissuade other doctors from committing the same mistake is a mere drop in the bucket. A brand new low end car costs more than that.

If they get the money, is that synonymous with getting justice for the wrong done?

Negligence is a difficult error to punish, and I think money is not the best way to exact justice. There must be some other way to make the doctors see the gravity of the fatal error they committed --- if indeed, they are guilty.

Medicine is a tough art to practice. Doctors trying to save lives are always vulnerable to accusations and suspicions of negligence. What if this was a case of lack of sleep and exhaustion? It is always routine to ask the OR nurse for a gauze and instrument count after operations. For negligence to have occurred, said doctors must have been very indifferent to the whole procedure --- and that for me is sooo incredible to believe!

6 reactions:

bayi said...

I believe doctors, even the good ones, need a comprehensive insurance policy to protect themselves. But of course, when this happens, the cost is passed back to the patients. This adds to the problem of the already escalating costs in medical treatment.

may said...

usually the money is just a way to hurt the doctor's pocket. in that case, if he has a LOT of money, half a million is nothing. somehow, it sends a message to other people..."be careful, you could get sued and give out some amount of money". how about suspending his license for a period of time if proven guilty? you think that would be fair?

Duke said...

I would imagine that the doctors were indeed INDIFFERENT with the whole procedure leaving a gauze inside the woman's body. There is something wrong going on there and no amount of money can bring back the life lost.

Dr. Emer said...

BAYI - as long as the medical malpractice bill remains a bill, i don't think there'll be malpractice insurance here in the philippines

MAY - if i remember my lessons in legal medicine correctly, i think suspension or revocation of the license depends if the intent was criminal enough to warrant it. in cases like this, it will be impossible to prove criminal intent because doctors always operate because they want to help and not harm. whatever harm happens as a result must be accidental in nature.

DUKE - that remains a matter of argument between the plaintiffs and defendants. they have to argue their best before the legal authorities. my point is that if proven guilty, money is a small price to pay.

badoodles.wordpress.com said...

doc emer, i also think the problem with our law is its hard in keeping up with the dynamics in the society. 100,000 is sure peanuts nowadays to compensate whatever lives lost. though i am still into thinking that increasing more the compensatory damage would still be rational, not to equate to life of the beloved but as a punitive measure to the wrong doer

MommyBa said...

hi doc! i have high regards for doctors but there are really instances when i begin to question a doctor's competence especially if i know that they are supposed to know what they're doing. i recently had a bout with pneumonia and unfortunately, i didn't have a grand experience when i was rushed to the er of a hospital here in manila due to difficulty in breathing. nakakatawa pero would you believe na yung doctor was the ones asking me kung kelangan ko raw ba mag-nebulize or if i wanted to have oxygen. also, the doctor told me that i can go to work kahit na according to my blood work eh mataas ang infection ko sa katawan and i really am not feeling very well at all. naloka ako pero just the same, di na talaga ako nakapasok sa work for a week dahil talagang ininda ng katawan ko yung nararamdaman ko.

No amount of money can ever bring back the life of a relative. But I just hope that doctors will realize the seriousness of their jobs and I hope they'll be diligent enough to do it. Naintindihan ko rin ang side ng mga doctors because I know na dedicated din naman sila sa sinumpaan nilang tungkulin. Meron lang talagang iba na medyo pabaya sa profession nila.

It's really great that you wrote about this. Something to think about really!