Publication of names of covid patients in media not only unethical but adds to panic in society
Dr Arun Mitra an ENT surgeon pointed out to the press
Ludhiana: Dr Arun Mitra an ENT surgeon pointed out to the press that he got his RT PCR test done at the Govt. College for Boys’ Hostel (Meritorious school) on 18th August 2020. On his inquiry on 20th August in the evening he was told that the report is pending. But to his astonishment on 21st August morning he got a call from someone that he has read in a newspaper that my report for COVID is positive. It is strange that the press got report before I could get it, said Dr Arun Mitra.
In a letter e-mailed to the Civil surgeon Ludhiana he said that ‘I have been continuously examining the patients with complete PPE protection and never closed my clinic because of fear of Corona infection. This has helped in early detection of COVID patients many of whom were managed timely. In addition my continuous working helped in management of other ENT diseases. Therefore I knew that I am vulnerable to the infection at any time. But I am anguished at that my report is released to the press before I get it and the press publishes my name without my consent. This is against the confidentiality of the patient which as medical professionals we are bound to maintain’.
Through the letter to the Civil Surgeon he has requested that in future only the number of patients of COVID is released to the press and not names of the patients. Publication of names creates fear in the minds of the people particularly the families around. It also affects the person's day today life with the neighbours and in the case of a doctor his/her relationship with the patient is likely to get affected. The panic increases even more when it comes in public domain that a doctor is sick. This is true not only for COVID but for all diseases particularly the communicable diseases. We as doctors understand the details of these, he said, but laymen take it otherwise. Therefore it is important that the press should not publish the names of the patient without her/his consent. Dr G S Grewal, Ex- President Punjab Medical Council said that we have to maintain confidentiality of every patient. Publication of name in the media is hurting her/his privacy and is ethically wrong and is against the norms of Disaster act. Publication of name of a senior doctor before he is even aware of it amounts to his defamation and media should refrain from such things. The health administration should see to it that this is not repeated and responsible persons should be made answerable.
Dr Shakti Kumar, a Psychiatrist said that at this time whereas on one hand it is our job to prevent the spread of disease, it is also our duty to check panic. Dr R K Sharma, Ex-President IMA Ludhiana said that several doctors are taken ill and it is our professional hazard. But their names should not be brought to public as it affects their privacy as well as increases public apprehension.