Remedial Law

ATIENZA vs. BOARD OF MEDICINE and EDITHA SIOSON G.R. No. 177407 February 9, 2011 Admissibility of Evidence

FACTS:

Due to her lumbar pains, private respondent Editha Sioson went to Rizal Medical Center for check-up. The tests revealed that her right kidney is normal. It was ascertained, however, that her left kidney is non-functioning and non-visualizing. Thus, she underwent kidney operation.

On February 18, 2000, private respondent’s husband, filed a complaint for gross negligence and/or incompetence before the BOM against the doctors who allegedly participated in the fateful kidney operation and petitioner Atienza.

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 respondent’s fully functional right kidney, instead of the left non-functioning and non-visualizing kidney.

After complainant presented his evidence, private respondent Editha Sioson, filed her formal offer of documentary evidence. Attached to the formal offer of documentary evidence are her Exhibits “A” to “D,” which were all photocopies, which she offered for the purpose of proving that her kidneys were both in their proper anatomical locations at the time she was operated.

Petitioner argues that the exhibits formally offered in evidence by Editha: (1) violate the best evidence rule; (2) have not been properly identified and authenticated; (3) are completely hearsay; and (4) are incompetent to prove their purpose.

 

ISSUE:

Whether or not the exhibits are admissible evidence.

 

RULING:

To begin with, it is well-settled that the rules of evidence are not strictly applied in proceedings before administrative bodies such as the BOM. Although trial courts are enjoined to observe strict enforcement of the rules of evidence, in connection with evidence which may appear to be of doubtful relevancy, incompetency, or admissibility, we have held that:

From the foregoing, we emphasize the distinction between the admissibility of evidence and the probative weight to be accorded the same pieces of evidence. PNOC Shipping and Transport Corporation v. Court of Appeals teach:

 

Admissibility of evidence refers to the question of whether or not the circumstance (or evidence) is to be considered at all. On the other hand, the probative value of evidence refers to the question of whether or not it proves an issue.

 

Second, petitioner’s insistence that the admission of Editha’s exhibits violated his substantive rights leading to the loss of his medical license is misplaced. Petitioner mistakenly relies on Section 20, Article I of the Professional Regulation Commission Rules of Procedure, which reads:

 

Section 20. Administrative investigation shall be conducted in accordance with these Rules. The Rules of Court shall only apply in these proceedings by analogy or on a suppletory character and whenever practicable and convenient. Technical errors in the admission of evidence which do not prejudice the substantive rights of either party shall not vitiate the proceedings.

 

The subject of inquiry in this case is whether respondent doctors are liable for gross negligence in removing the right functioning kidney of Editha instead of the left non-functioning kidney, not its proper anatomical locations. As previously discussed, the proper anatomical locations of Editha’s kidneys at the time of her operation at the RMC may be established not only through the exhibits offered in evidence.

 

Finally, these exhibits do not constitute hearsay evidence of the anatomical locations of Editha’s kidneys. In fact, the introduction of secondary evidence, such as copies of the exhibits, is allowed. Ultimately, since the originals cannot be produced, the BOM properly admitted Editha’s formal offer of evidence and, thereafter, the BOM shall determine the probative value thereof when it decides the case.

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