Court orders two Cebu doctors to pay P1.3 M for death of child
By MARS W. MOSQUEDA JR.
November 24, 2004
CEBU CITY — After 12 years of fighting in court, the family of an eight-year-old boy here finally got the justice they wanted when the court found two doctors guilty of gross negligence that allegedly resulted in the death of the child.
The Regional Trial Court (RTC) here convicted Dr. Carlos Gerona, attending physician, and Dr. Vicente Jabagat, anesthesiologist, in connection with the death of Allen Key Bontilao and ordered them to pay the victim’s family over R1.3 million in damages.
The civil case was filed by Allen Key’s parents, Alfredo Bontilao and Shirlena Limotan Bontilao.
Gerona and Jabagat were previously acquitted of the criminal and administrative charges. However, RTC 6 Judge Anacleto L. Caminade found them guilty of negligence so "gross that it amounted to bad faith."
Caminade cited Section 2176 of the Civil Code, which provides that whoever, by act or omission, causes damage to another through fault or negligence should pay for the damage done.
Court records show that Allen Key was a healthy boy. He fell at the poultry house of his parents on Dec. 27, 1991 and suffered a bone fracture in his right wrist.
The boy died of asphyxia as he was undergoing surgery at the Gullas College of Medicine on June 24, 1992 after he was allegedly given the wrong anesthesia.
Sherlina, a clerk of Gullas College of Medicine, was at the operating room and witnessed what transpired. She saw Jabagat administer the anesthetic in the presence of Gerona.
When Allen Key became unconscious after receiving the anesthesia, Jabagat tried to intubate the boy for ventilation for five minutes but failed. Blood oozed from the boy’s mouth. The next thing she knew, Allen Key was dead.
An autopsy conducted by the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) on the body showed that the boy died of asphyxia due to congestion and edema of the epiglottis. In layman’s terms, Allen Key died because his lungs collapsed.
The court stated that no one gave a credible explanation on how an operation for a bone fracture could result in death. The nature of the injury normally wouldn’t cause death unless the doctors were negligent, the court said.