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Medical Evidence

A Report by:
Jose Parcon
Jonathan Siddayao

Evidence is the means, sanctioned by the Rules of Court, of ascertaining in a


judicial proceeding the truth respecting a matter of fact. (Sec. 1, Rule 128,
Rules of Court).
It is the species of proof, or probative matter, legally presented at the trial of
an issue by the act of the parties and through the medium of witnesses,
records, documents, concrete objects, etc. for the purpose of inducing belief
in the minds of the court as to their contention. (Blacks Law Dictionary).
If the means employed to prove a fact is medical in nature, then it becomes
medical evidence.1
Types of Medical Evidence2
1. Autoptic or Real Evidence

This is evidence made known to the senses of the court. It includes


the sense of vision, hearing, taste, smell and touch.

Sec.1, Rule 130, Rules of Court. View of an object. Whenever an


object has such a relation to the fact in issue as to afford reasonable
ground of belief respecting the latter, such object may be exhibited to
or viewed by the court, on its existence, situation, condition, or

1PedroP.Solis,MedicalJurisprudence,R.P.GarciaPublishingCo.,1988.

2Ibid.

character proved by witnesses, as the court in its discretion may


determine.
The court may require the physician to present the skeleton of the
victim of a criminal act exhumed and examined for the judge to see
the presence and degree of the ante-mortem fracture.
Limitations to the Presentation of Autoptic Evidence
a. Indecency and Impropriety
Presentation of evidence may be necessary to serve the best interest
of justice but the notion of decency and sensitivity may cause
inhibition of its presentation.
The court may not allow exposure of the genitalia of an alleged victim
of sexual offense to show the presence and degree of injuries suffered
by the victim. There are other ways for the court to know the facts
other than actual exhibition.
b. Repulsive Objects and those Offensive to Sensibilities
Foul smelling objects, persons suffering from highly infectious and
communicable disease, or objects which when touch may mean potential
danger to the life and health of the judge may not be presented.
However, if such evidence is necessary in the adjudication of the case, the
question of indecency and impropriety of the fact that such evidence is
repulsive or offensive to sensibilities, it may be presented. This will depend
on the sound discretion of the court.
2. Testimonial Evidence
A physician may be summoned to appear before a court to give his
testimony. He may be presented in court either as an ordinary
witness or expert witness, or both.

a. Ordinary Witness
A physician who testifies in court on matters he perceived from his
patient in the course of physician-patient relationship is considered
as an ordinary witness.
An exception to the ordinary witness rule is the privilege
communication between physician and patient. The physician and
other medical practitioners cannot in a civil case, without the
consent of the patient, be examined as to any information, which
he may have acquired in attending such patient in a professional
capacity.
A medical witness can only testify on matters derived by his own
perception. He can only testify on matters which he has personal
knowledge.
Matters, which are not from the personal knowledge of the witness
but from mere repetition of what he has heard others say, are
hearsay evidence.
As a rule, hearsay evidence is not admissible in court. But one of
the exceptions to the non-admissibility of hearsay evidence is
dying declaration.
The declaration of a dying person under the consciousness of his
impending death is admissible because of its necessity and it is
trustworthy.

For dying declaration to be admissible, the following


requisites must be present:3

3Ibid.

i.

It must be shown that the declarant was conscious of his


impending death;

ii.

That the declaration must be with regard to his impending


death;

iii.

That the declarant was in full possession of his mental


faculties when he made the declaration;

iv.

Such evidence is presented in court in a case of homicide,


murder or parricide wherein the declarant was the victim.

b. Expert Witness
A physician on account of his training and experience can give his
opinion on a set of medical facts. He can deduce or infer
something, determine the cause of death, or render opinion
pertinent to the issue and medical in nature.
The probative value of the expert medical testimony depends upon
the degree of learning and experience on the line of what the
medical expert is testifying, the basis and logic of his conclusion,
and other evidences tending to show the veracity or falsity of his
testimony.

3. Experimental Evidence
A medical practitioner as a witness may be allowed by the court to
confirm his allegation as a corroborated proof to an opinion he
previously stated.
Example:

In the issue as to how long a person can survive, after the


administration of a lethal dose of poison, the medical witness can prove
within the view of the court by administration of said poison to
experimental animals.
4. Documentary Evidence
Document is an instrument on which is recorded by means of letters,
figures, or marks intended to be used for the purpose of recording that
matter which may be evidentially used.
Example:
a) Medical certification or Report on:
Medical examination;
Physical examination;
Necropsy;
Laboratory;
Exhumation;
Birth;
Death.

b) Medical expert opinion;


c) Deposition

A written record of evidence given orally and transcribed in writing


in the form of questions by the interrogator and the answer of the
deponent by the latter.

5. Physical Evidence

These are articles and materials, which are found in connection with
the investigation and which aid in establishing the identity of the
perpetrator or the circumstances under which the crime was
committed, or in general assist in the prosecution of a criminal.
Types of Physical Evidence:
a) Corpus Delicti Evidence Objects or substances that may be a part
of the body of the victim of murder, prohibited drugs recovered
from the possession of the offender, knife with bloodstain or
fingerprint of the suspect, etc.
b) Associative Evidence These are physical evidences, which may link
a suspect to the crime. The suspect may leave clues at scene of the
crime such as: weapons or tools used in the crime, fingerprint or
foot impression of the suspect, wearing apparel, etc., and other
articles of value that may be useful in solving the crime.
c) Tracing evidence Physical evidences which may assist
investigators in locating the suspect such as: aircraft or ships
manifest, physicians clinical record in case the suspect seeks
medical assistance for injuries sustained in an encounter, blood
stains of the wounded suspect infer direction he traversed during
escape.

Source:
Pedro P. Solis, Medical Jurisprudence, R.P. Garcia Publishing Co.,
1988.