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Disrespect for privacy (The Age, letter to the editor)

19 November 2013

The Philippines' despair was aptly highlighted in the article "Quiet despair for injured survivor" (15/11). Reporting the various elements of this disaster, including the widespread damage, the probability of disease, and access to food, water and medical supplies, is fundamental. However, AMA Victoria is disturbed at the article's blatant disrespect for patient privacy.

What is the benefit of detailing a man's medical condition? Or of publicising the comment from one doctor that "he sounds like a lost cause". This patient is entitled to privacy and dignity. Australians would be outraged if their medical condition or prognosis was broadcast to the world.

In Australia, patient privacy is sacred and our media outlets should uphold the same level of respect to all patients, irrespective of what country the hospital is in. A disaster does not eliminate a patient's right to privacy - especially in international newspapers.

Dr Stephen Parnis
President, AMA Victoria

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