06. Chan vs. Chan G.R. No. 179786 Digest
Digested G.R. No. 179786...
Chan vs. Chan G.R. No. 179786
Facts: Petitioner Wife filed against Respondent Husband a petition for the declaration of nullity of marriage, with the dissolution of their conjugal partnership of gains, and the award of custody of their children to her, claiming that Respondent Husband failed to care for and support his family and that a psychiatrist diagnosed him as mentally deficient due to incessant drinking and excessive use of prohibited drugs. Respondent Husband claims that it was the Wife who failed in her duties. And that he initially agreed to marriage counseling to save their marriage, but upon arriving at the hospital, two men forcibly held him by both arms while another gave him an injection. He attached a Philhealth Claim Form to his answer as proof that he was forcibly confined at the rehabilitation unit of a hospital. However, that same form carried a physician’s handwritten note that the Husband suffered from ―methamphetamine and alcohol abuse. Based on the physician’s handwritten statement, Petitioner Wife requested for the issuance of a subpoena duces tecum addressed to Medical City, for the production of the Husband’s medical records. The Husband opposed, arguing that the medical records were covered by physician-patient privilege. The request of Petitioner Wife was denied and her subsequent Motion for Reconsideration on the matter was also denied. She then filed a Petitioner for Certiorari with the Court of Appeals but this was also dismissed. Her subsequent Motion for Reconsideration with the CA was also denied. Issue: Whether or Not, CA erred in ruling that the trial court correctly denied the issuance of a subpoena duces tecum covering Johnny’s hospital records on the ground that these are covered by the privileged character of the physician-patient communication. Held: Issuance of a subpoena ducestecum is premature. Petitioner Wife made the request before trial started. She will have to wait for trial to begin before making a request for the issuance of a subpoena duces tecum covering her husband’s hospital records. It is when those records are produced for examination at the trial, that the husband may opt to object, not just to their admission in evidence, but more so to their disclosure. Petitioner Wife’s motion for the issuance of the subpoena duces tecum also cannot be treated as a motion for production of documents as a mode of discovery because Rule 27, Section 1 of the Rules of Court is only limited to disclosure of documents which are “not priviledged”. Petitioner Wife claims that the documents are not privileged because it is the testimony of the physician that is supposed to be privileged. This contention is wrong. Section 24(c) of Rule 130 states that the physician ―cannot in a civil case, without the consent of the patient, be examined regarding their (physician-patient) professional conversation. To allow the disclosure during discovery procedure of the hospital records (including the results of tests that the physician ordered, the diagnosis of the patient’s illness, and the advice or treatment given) would, in effect, be tantamount to allowing access to evidence that is inadmissible without the patient’s consent. Disclosing them would be the equivalent of compelling the physician to testify on privileged matters he gained while dealing with the patient, without the latter’s prior consent. Lastly, Petitioner Wife argues that her Husband already admitted in his answer that he had been confined in a hospital. However, as already mentioned above, trial in the case had not yet begun. Since trial had not yet begun, it cannot be said the Husband
had already presented said Philhealth claim form as evidence. The Husband was not yet bound to adduce evidence in the case when he filed his answer. Any request for disclosure of his hospital records would again be premature. For all of the above reasons, the CA and the RTC were justified in denying Josielene her request for the production in court of Johnny’s hospital records. Court denies the petition and affirms the Decision of the Court of Appeals.