• Issuing false medical certificate is a crime

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    Persida Acosta

    Persida Acosta

    Dear PAO,
    I’m a human resource head in our company. One of our employees submitted a medical certificate as proof of his hospital confinement for a week due to a certain illness. Sometime later, I was able to verify that the employee was actually abroad for a vacation during the time of his alleged confinement.

    My company would now like to file a case against the doctor who issued such certification especially because we found out that this is not the only instance this doctor issued a false medical certificate. The same doctor also issued a medical certificate assuring that another employee was healthy despite the fact that the employee actually contracted advance tuberculosis. When this employee was confronted, he admitted that he never even saw the doctor and that he was just asked to pick up his medical certificate in the doctor’s clinic. How can we make this doctor liable considering that he is a threat and disservice to the medical community? Thanks and more power!
    Loraine

    Dear Loraine,
    The actions of a doctor in issuing a false medical certi-ficate constitute a crime pen-alized by law. You may file a criminal complaint against the doctor for the issuance of a false certificate. The exact provision of the law on the said matter provides that:

    “Art. 174. False medical cer-tificates, false certificates of merits or service, etc. — The penalties of arresto mayor in its maximum period to prision correccional in its minimum period and a fine not to exceed P1,000 pesos shall be imposed upon:

    1. Any physician or surgeon who, in connection, with the practice of his profession, shall issue a false certificate; xxx

    xxx xxx” (Revised Penal Code of the Philippines).

    It can be seen from the above cited law that the issuance of a false medical certificate carries a penalty of imprisonment and payment of a fine. To be liable under the said law, it must be proven that the doctor know-ingly issued a false medical certificate. Mere mistake in the content of the medical certificate will not suffice since it is the deliberate issuance of a false certificate that is punished by the law. Also note that the person who knowingly used the false medical certificates can likewise be held criminally liable for its use (Art. 175, Revised Penal Code of the Philippines).

    Aside from criminal liability, an administrative complaint can also be filed against the said doctor before the Pro-fessional Regulatory Commis-sion (PRC) for the said mis-conduct. The Medical Act of 1959 provides that the issuance of a false medical certificate is also a ground for the repri-mand, suspension or revocation of a physician’s certificate of regis-tration as a doctor (Sec. 24, Article III, Republic Act [R.A.] No. 2382). Thus, aside from criminal lia-bility, the doctor may also lose his license as a result of his issuance of a false medical certificate.

    Issuance of a false medical certificate by doctors can be considered as a serious offense as it undermines the integrity of medical practitioners in general and breeds distrust to their highly regarded profession which is aimed to save lives and not just to serve as mere means for practical conve-nience. It is to this end that you must file proper action, as discussed above, against such erring doctors.

    Again, we find it necessary to mention that this opinion is solely based on the facts you have narrated and our appreciation of the same. The opinion may vary when the facts are changed or elaborated.

    We hope that we were able to enlighten you on the matter.

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