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Krohn vs. CA Case Digest


Where the person against whom the privilege is claimed is the patient’s husband who testifies on a document executed by medical practitioners, his testimony does not have the force and effect of the testimony of the physician who examined the patient and executed the report. Plainly, this does not fall within the prohibition.


Facts: 

Edgar and Ma. Paz were married and they produced three children. Their relationship later developed into a stormy one. Ma. Paz underwent psychological testing purportedly in an effort to ease the marital strain. The effort however proved futile. 

Edgar was able to secure a copy of the confidential psychiatric report. He later filed a petition for the annulment of his marriage with Ma. Paz and cited the the said report. Ma. Paz denied the report in her Answer as "either unfounded or irrelevant."

At the hearing, Edgar took the witness stand and tried to testify on the contents of the Confidential Psychiatric Evaluation Report. This was objected to on the ground that it violated the rule on privileged communication between physician and patient. 

Subsequently, Ma. Paz filed a Manifestation expressing her "continuing objection" to any evidence, oral or documentary, "that would thwart the physician-patient privileged communication rule." Edgar opposed Ma. Paz' motion to disallow the introduction of the confidential psychiatric report as evidence. The trial court issued an Order admitting the report. Hence, Ma. Paz filed a petition for certiorari before the CA. 

She argued that since the rules prohibit a physician from testifying on matters which he may have acquired in attending to a patient in a professional capacity, "WITH MORE REASON should be third person (like respondent-husband in this particular instance) be PROHIBITED from testifying on privileged matters between a physician and patient or from submitting any medical report, findings or evaluation prepared by a physician which the latter has acquired as a result of his confidential and privileged relation with a patient."

Edgar contends that the prohibition applies only to a physician and is not applicable to the case at bar where the person sought to be barred from testifying on the privileged communication is the husband and not the physician of the petitioner.


Issue:

Is Ma. Paz correct?


Held:

No. Lim v. Court of Appeals clearly lays down the requisites in order that the privilege may be successfully invoked: (a) the privilege is claimed in a civil case; (b) the person against whom the privilege is claimed is one duly authorized to practice medicine, surgery or obstetrics; (c) such person acquired the information while he was attending to the patient in his professional capacity; (d) the information was necessary to enable him to act in that capacity; and, (e) the information was confidential and, if disclosed, would blacken the reputation of the patient.

In the instant case, the person against whom the privilege is claimed is not one duly authorized to practice medicine, surgery or obstetrics. He is simply the patient's husband who wishes to testify on a document executed by medical practitioners. Plainly and clearly, this does not fall within the claimed prohibition. Neither can his testimony be considered a circumvention of the prohibition because his testimony cannot have the force and effect of the testimony of the physician who examined the patient and executed the report.

Counsel for petitioner indulged heavily in objecting to the testimony of private respondent on the ground that it was privileged. He invoked the rule on privileged communications but never questioned the testimony as hearsay. It was a fatal mistake. For, in failing to object to the testimony on the ground that it was hearsay, counsel waived his right to make such objection and, consequently, the evidence offered may be admitted. (Krohn vs. CA, G.R. No. 108854 June 14, 1994)

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