Defending Carroll GeneralNormally, when we write you, we...


January 17, 1993

Defending Carroll General

Normally, when we write you, we make every effort to praise the articles which appear about the hospital. This time, however, we want to express our disappointment in Donna Boller's story about a psychiatric patient's experience in our emergency room, which appeared Dec. 21.

Let me stress that our disappointment is not related to negative coverage per se, but to the fact that The Sun did not present a more balanced story. The problem begins with the headline which raises questions about the quality of care this patient received, when in fact, there was no indication whatsoever that the patient was not well cared for.

The patient herself describes her care as "humane" in the article.

We believe that to raise questions about the quality of our hospital's emergency room based on the perceptions of one patient does an injustice to our staff, which works hard to provide excellent care.

The central issue raised by the reporter was the timeliness of the care the patient received. However, it is clear that the patient's care was well within the mandates of state and federal law. . . .

The article also made much of the "windowless" quiet room in the emergency department. (Quiet rooms must be designed and furnished so that patients can't hurt themselves.) The quiet room at Carroll County General Hospital also doubles as a treatment area for medical emergencies when necessary, and as such, does not contain windows to assure patient privacy -- not to inflict sensory deprivation or punishment. . . .

The article stated that we "refused to explain" what happened in the course of the patient's treatment. The reason we refrained from discussing the case was the strict confidentiality law now in place to protect patient rights. Even when patients grant permission, the hospital is in a tenuous position if it reveals specific details about their care. . . .

We look forward to a continuing relationship with The Sun in Carroll County, but will always refrain from discussing personal details about our patients. We hope you understand that we do so to protect the privacy of all patients who depend on us for their medical care.

Dr. Michael Stang

Gill Chamblin


The writers are, respectively, chairman of the Department of Emergency Medicine and director of public relations at Carroll County General Hospital.

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