Friday, December 08, 2006

Ethics question of the day -- Medical privacy and cellphones

I'd appreciate some input from my loyal followers about this recent case:

The other day, I boarded a train for his trip home. Because I boarded late, and the train was very crowded, I was unable to get my accustomed seat in the "Quiet Car," and, indeed was lucky to find a seat at all.

Unfortunately, I was forced to sit next to a gentlemen who identified himself as "Dr Goldberg. (not his real name). How did I learn this? Well is was because the good doctor was using his Amtrak seat as a rent-free annex to his medical office. That is, he had a list of patients who had called him during the day, and he proceeded to go down the list, and using the modern miracle of cellphone technology, perform his consultations. And on each call he identified himself.

Aside from the fact that I find listening to telephone conversations extremely annoying, "Doctor Goldberg" was discussing very detailed and intimate medical information with his patients in full earshot of at least 80 fellow passengers. Sure, we could only hear half the conversation, but I really didn't appreciate it when he started talking about the results of a pelvic examination of a female patient of his. And occasionally, when he called the person, he did address them by name.

Aside from being annoyed, I really wonder whether doing this is a breach of medical ethics. I mean, I wouldn't want my doc to be sitting on a train, dial me up on his cellphone, and say, "Mr. Apikoris, this is Doctor Kronkheit. We just got the results of your STD tests back, and everything came up negative." It's bad enough that I have to listen to cellphone conversations of arrogant bosses chewing out their subordinates, or fools trying to finalize sensitive multizillion dollar business deals while giving the names of the parties out in public, but I think that the public broadcast of medical information reaches a new low, and probably should be against the law, if it isn't already.

Anyway, just interested to see what you all think.

3 Comments:

Anonymous bsci said...

I'm pretty sure that's not just unethical, it's a breach of HIPPA laws. You'll notice that even the elevators in hospitals have signs saying not to discuss patient cases in public.

10:59 PM  
Blogger Conservative Apikoris said...

I'm pretty sure that's not just unethical, it's a breach of HIPPA laws. You'll notice that even the elevators in hospitals have signs saying not to discuss patient cases in public.

Holy cow! I'm sorry I didn't confront this quack and get him to shut up.

I thought it was annoying, I didn't realize it was illegal.

12:08 PM  
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4:22 PM  

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