Ruñez Jr. v. Dr. Jurado A.M. No. 2005-08-SC

Ruñez, Sr. arrived by himself at the Courts clinic complaining of dizziness. His blood pressure and pulse rate were taken by the reception nurse and were registered at 210/100 mmHg and 112 beats a minute, Dr. Jurado then instructed the nurse to administer one tablet of Capoten 25mg, an emergency drug that quickly lowers a patients blood pressure. Dr Jurado informed Ruez, Sr. that he will be taken to the hospital, after which she immediately instructed the ambulance driver, Mr. Jacinto, to stand by for hospital conduction. Minutes later, after having taken Capoten and being given a chance to rest, Ruez, Sr. stood up and walked out saying, Doktora, hanaplang ho ako ng kasama. Dr. Jurado said she waited for him to return but he failed to show up.

According to Ruez, Jr (son of Ruez Sr.), after being informed of his father’s condition, he rushed him to the Manila Doctors Hospital. The following morning, he suffered a stroke and for a moment was on flat line.

On February 15, 2005, Ruez, Jr. filed a letter-complaint with the Office of the Chief Justice regarding the alleged lack of attention given to his father by Dr. Jurado, he claims that Dr. Jurado merely advised his father to go to the hospital and then allowed him to travel to Manila Doctors Hospital despite the availability of an ambulance at the disposal of the clinic.

Whether or not Dr. Jurado be held liable for simple neglect of duty.

No. Simple neglect of duty is defined as failure to give proper attention to a task expected of an employee resulting from either carelessness or indifference or signifies a disregard of duty resulting from carelessness or indifference.
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 for 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 patients is, in most cases, his own conscience, violation of this rule on his part is discreditable and inexcusable.

A doctors duty to his patient is not required to be extraordinary. The standard contemplated for doctors is simply the reasonable average merit among ordinarily good physicians, i.e. reasonable skill and competence.Dr. Jurado fulfilled such a standard when she treated Ruez, Sr. inside the clinic.
Thus, when Ruez, Sr. failed to show up as of closing time, and could not be found by the male nurse who looked for him at her instructions, Dr. Jurado had reason to think that he had decided to disregard her medical advice, which he in fact did when he and Ruez, Jr. decided to go to the hospital on their own. Ruez, Sr., still of sound mind, had the right to accept or ignore his doctors recommendation. Dr. Jurado was obligated to care for Ruez, Sr. when the latter asked for medical treatment, which she did, but when he left on his own accord Dr. Jurado was not expected, much less duty-bound, to seek out her patient and continue being his doctor.

Simple neglect of duty presupposes a task expected of an employee. Thus, it cannot be present if there was no expected task on her part.


Kristine Andres

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