G.R. No. 179786. July 24, 2013


Josielene Lara Chan (Josielene) filed before the Regional Trial Court (RTC) petition for the declaration of nullity of her marriage to respondent Johnny Chan (Johnny), the dissolution of their conjugal partnership of gains, and the award of custody of their children to her. Josielene claimed that Johnny 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.
Josielene requested the issuance of a subpoena duces tecum covering the hospital records of Johnny’s confinement, which records she wanted to present in court as evidence in support of her action to have their marriage declared a nullity. Respondent Johnny resisted her request for subpoena, however, invoking the privileged character of those records under Section 24(c), Rule 130. 
Josielene claims that  the hospital records subject of this case are not privileged since it is the “testimonial” evidence of the physician that may be regarded as privileged.


(1) Whether the privileged character of the physician-patient communication does not cover the hospital records, but only the examination of the physician at the trial.(2) Whether or not the issuance of a subpoena duces tecum shall be denied covering Johnny’s hospital records on the ground that these are covered by the privileged character of the physician-patient communication.


(1) NO. To allow, however, the disclosure during discovery procedure of the hospital records — the results of tests that the physician ordered, the diagnosis of the patient’s illness, and the advice or treatment he gave him — would be to allow access to evidence that is inadmissible without the patient’s consent. Physicians memorialize all this information in the patient’s records. 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.

(2) YES. The physician-patient privileged communication rule essentially means that a physician who gets information while professionally attending a patient cannot in a civil case be examined without the patient’s consent as to any facts which would blacken the latter’s reputation. This rule is intended to encourage the patient to open up to the physician, relate to him the history of his ailment, and give him access to his body, enabling the physician to make a correct diagnosis of that ailment and provide the appropriate cure. Any fear that a physician could be compelled in the future to come to court and narrate all that had transpired between him and the patient might prompt the latter to clam up, thus putting his own health at great risk.
Petition denied, judgment affirmed.

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