In naming doctor shot at Hopkins, media betrays patient confidentiality

September 16, 2010

In what was a tragic day at Johns Hopkins, I was appalled to read on the updated abc2 website that the identity of the Hopkins physician shot today was revealed by two Hopkins employees.

First, shame on those employees. Second, shame on the media.

The media's hunger for information is ridiculous, most especially when the information they end up getting is so far from being useful to the public. Interviewing someone who has a friend or a coworker on the affected floor serves the public interest no good, not to mention the interests of the hospital and those involved with the event.

I abhor the media's obsession with wanting to know this information. The physician, once shot, became a patient of the institution, thus covered by federal laws that dictate privacy and confidentiality. The fact that the media tries so hard to get this information is so unfair to those of us in hospitals who work incredibly hard to respect the privacy rights of our patients. The media needs to consider the broader implications of the information they demand of people, particularly when this information is of such sensitive nature. If those employees who "leaked" this information actually identified themselves, they could be immediately terminated on the grounds of violating patient confidentiality.

I am saddened by the actions of these employees and more sickened that the media doesn't respect the challenging job hospital employees have in maintaining patient privacy.

Michael DiJulia, Baltimore

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