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Doctors face raps in court over death of Mayor Marlon Garcia
“For the purpose of this preliminary investigation, the opinion of Dr. Durvasula on the existence of questionable standards of care is sufficient to establish the element of breach of duty. Because of that breach of duty, it resulted in the death of Mr. Garcia. Hence, there is probable cause to engender a well-founded belief that the respondents are probably guilty and should be held for trial,” reads part of the 34-page resolution penned by Assistant City Prosecutor Verna Merelos on March 1, 2021.

Doctors face raps in court over death of Mayor Marlon Garcia

Le Phyllis F. Antojado (The Freeman) - May 8, 2021 - 12:00am

CEBU, Philippines —  The two doctors who attended to the late Barili Mayor Marlon Garcia are facing charges in court for reckless imprudence resulting to homicide.

The Cebu City Prosecutor’s Office found probable cause to elevate to court the complaint against doctors Elfleda Hernandez and Yvonne Bettina Montejo.

“For the purpose of this preliminary investigation, the opinion of Dr. Durvasula on the existence of questionable standards of care is sufficient to establish the element of breach of duty. Because of that breach of duty, it resulted in the death of Mr. Garcia. Hence, there is probable cause to engender a well-founded belief that the respondents are probably guilty and should be held for trial,” reads part of the 34-page resolution penned by Assistant City Prosecutor Verna Merelos on March 1, 2021.

Durvasula is an infectious disease expert from the Loyola University of Stritch School of Medicine in Chicago, USA whose opinion the Garcia family sought when Marlon’s wife, Jima Garcia, decided to sue the doctors. He evaluated Marlon’s 850-page medical records.

Durvasula said that while the initial treatment for COVID-19 and vascular complication that was applied to Marlon was “appropriate and protocol-driven,” the medical care Marlon received at the hospital “did not meet acceptable standards”.

According to him, there would have been no need for Marlon to remain intubated at the hospital after his condition improved. Marlon’s medical records reportedly do not show justification for him to be kept intubated despite improvement on the condition.

Durvasula said “there was an extreme paucity of physician’s notes on record.”

He also questioned the ABG results and certain laboratory tests ordered that were allegedly excessive and unnecessary such as the measurement of fibrinogen levels, as well as Marlon’s continued stay at the hospital when he could have reportedly been discharged.

The Garcias said earlier that Marlon wanted to be discharged from the hospital because aside from his condition already improving, he was worried of the huge bills.

But Hernandez allegedly told him, “Mayor, ayaw gyud gawas, daghan ang malipay og madisgrasya ka.”

Defense

Hernandez denied saying the same in her counter-affidavit submitted to the prosecutors. She said she only told Marlon to get well first because he had so many things to do as mayor.

She said that as an infectious disease specialist, she always adhered to appropriate medical standard of her specialty. She also said that the ABG measurement was not only justified but also were accurate.

Montejo, for her part, said the complaint against them were “conjectural, speculative and bereft of any concrete statement of fact of medical negligence.”

The two doctors said the medical care they provided Marlon was appropriate and was documented properly.

They questioned Durvasula’s opinion on the standards of care in the Philippines, contending that he is not a holder of a valid Certificate of Registration duly issued by the Board of Medical Examiners in the Philippines to practice medicine nor a holder of an authorization from the said board.

Position

But the prosecutor’s office said doctors’ defenses are “denial defenses of denial” and the evidence the Garcia family presented against the doctors are evidentiary in nature and “should be ventilated in a full blown trial.”

Merelos’ resolution also reads: “Verily, the causation of the death as having been admitted as hospital-acquired bacterial infection lends credence to the complainant’s allegation that there was lack of the standard of care expected of the attending physicians.”

Marlon died on September 6, 2020 from septic shock secondary to catheter related blood stream infection, ventilator associated pneumonia. He tested positive for COVID-19 but recovered while in the hospital. – JMO (FREEMAN)

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