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COMMONWEALTH PENNSYLVANIA v. ROBERT L. SEVILLE (06/13/79)

decided: June 13, 1979.

COMMONWEALTH OF PENNSYLVANIA
v.
ROBERT L. SEVILLE, APPELLANT



No. 459 March Term, 1977, Appeal from the Conviction and Sentence of the Court of Common Pleas of York County, Criminal Division, No. 214 dated September 9, 1977.

COUNSEL

Samuel K. Gates, York, for appellant.

William T. Hast, Assistant District Attorney, York, for Commonwealth, appellee.

Spaeth, Hester and Montgomery, JJ. Montgomery, J., concurs in the result. Spaeth, J., files a concurring statement.

Author: Hester

[ 266 Pa. Super. Page 589]

Following a one-day jury trial, appellant Robert L. Seville was found guilty of driving a motor vehicle under the influence of intoxicating liquor and driving under suspension.*fn1 Part of the evidence against appellant consisted of a hospital report containing the results of a blood alcohol test administered to him shortly after his arrest. Appellant contends on this appeal that the report should not have been admitted without the presence at trial of the hospital technician who administered the test. We find no error in the use of the report and will therefore affirm.

Testimony adduced at trial revealed the following. In the early morning hours of February 6, 1977, Officer Craig A. Damon of the Jackson Township Police Department, York County, was on routine patrol on Biesecker Road when he noticed a 1972 Gremlin stopped in the middle of the road. As he approached from behind, Damon heard "the roar of the [car's] engine" and saw the Gremlin pull up about 60 feet and stop on the right berm of the road. Damon asked the driver, appellant herein, to get out of the car and the officer immediately noticed appellant's slurred speech, flushed face, bloodshot eyes, and a very strong odor of alcohol. Appellant was arrested and transported to State Police barracks where officers were unsuccessful in obtaining a breath sample from him. Appellant was then taken to York Hospital for extraction of a blood specimen. A quantity of blood was there drawn from his arm and placed, by lab technician Katie Potts, into a spectrophotometer for enzyme

[ 266 Pa. Super. Page 590]

    analysis. The results showed a blood alcohol content of .239 grams percent.

The Commonwealth's sole medical witness at trial was Dr. Jacinto Gochoco, Chairman of the Department of Pathology at York Hospital and, as such, custodian over all lab records. Dr. Gochoco was not present when the sample was drawn and tested but testified he exercises general supervision over such lab procedures. Through Dr. Gochoco, the Commonwealth established a chain of custody of the sample as well as the simple and routine procedure employed in taking blood tests to determine alcohol content. After the blood is drawn, it is placed in a vial, with appropriate markings for identification, and sequestered in a safety deposit refrigerated area, available only to lab personnel. N.T. 5. Thereafter, a technician administers the enzyme analysis, makes certain mathematic calculations, and records the results in a written hospital record. These records, as attested by Dr. Gochoco, are prepared in the regular course of the hospital business and kept in exclusive custody of the Department of Pathology in medical-legal cases. N.T. 15. Mrs. Katie Potts, the technician who performed the enzyme analysis and recorded the results, was found by Dr. Gochoco to be a "long-time, properly certified . . . employee of the lab". N.T. 13. The records containing the results of appellant's blood test were brought to court by Dr. Gochoco and admitted into evidence, over appellant's repeated objections.

Hospital records are generally admitted at trial as an exception to the hearsay rule under the Uniform Business Records as Evidence Act.*fn2 Our courts, however, have recognized that not all information contained in such records is

[ 266 Pa. Super. Page 591]

No such doubts as to reliability and accuracy are entertained when a record is offered merely to prove facts, such as the event of hospitalization, treatment prescribed, symptoms, given, or the existence of some readily ascertained substance or chemical within the body. See, e. g. Commonwealth v. Campbell, supra (hospital records, showing existence of spermatozoa in rape victim, held properly admitted as fact, via medical records librarian); Commonwealth v. Mobley, 450 Pa. 431, 301 A.2d 622 (1973) (hospital record, showing defendant had been hospitalized at certain times for certain wounds, held admissible as facts); Commonwealth v. Green, supra (hospital record, showing rape victim exhibited "exorciations of elbow and forehead", held admissible as fact). See ...


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