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Medical confidentiality and respect for the not-quite-dead

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Hold up! Before you read on, please read this...

This post was published more than 13 years ago

I keep old posts on the site because I often enjoy reading old content on other people's sites. It can be interesting to see how views have changed over time: for example, how my strident teenage views have, to put it mildly, mellowed.

I'm not a believer in brushing the past under the carpet. I've written some offensive rubbish on here in the past: deleting it and pretending it never happened doesn't change that. I hope that stumbling across something that's 13 years old won't offend anyone anew, because I hope that people can understand that what I thought and felt and wrote about then is probably very different to what I think and feel and wrote about now. It's a relic of an (albeit recent) bygone era.

So, given the age of this post, please bear in mind:

  • My views may well have changed in the last 13 years. I have written some very silly things over the years, many of which I find utterly cringeworthy today.
  • This post might use words or language in ways which I would now consider highly inappropriate, offensive, embarrassing, or all three.
  • Factual information might be outdated.
  • Links might be broken, and embedded material might not appear properly.

Okay. Consider yourself duly warned. Read on...

Prof Roger Williams, George Best’s consultant, has been giving regular updates on his status and even details of his treatment. I can’t understand how this is not breaking doctor-patient confidentiality. Best is unconcious and has been for some time, so he cannot have given his consent for details of his treatment to be circulated, and the consent of relatives would not be acceptable in this situation. The only possible way that I can see this being organised would be a long-standing agreement between Best and his consultant that the consultant would be allowed to discuss his case with the media, but I’m not entirely sure how watertight such an agreement would appear to be in a fluid situation.

I’m certianly not calling into question the Professor’s professionalism, but I’m just a little confused as to how this situation doesn’t break a fundament of medical ethics.

On a not dissimilar topic, it’s interesting to read that Jeremy Thompson and his team had some difficulty deciding whether it was appropriate to air comments like this:

“I know this may be a bit cold but I can’t feel sorry for George Best. No one made him drink and he knows what too much can do.”

I don’t even really see why there’s a debate to be had – the man’s very ill, and so surely its only appropriate to explore the reasons for that illness, which happen to be very controversial. Perhaps these comments could be seen as insensitive immediately following Best’s death, but, at last check, he was still alive. Maybe the above comment doesn’t take into account that alcoholism is an addictive illness, but, whether one agrees with the comment or not, it’s a valid point of view – and what’s the point of programmes airing viewpoints if they are only going to pick the ‘nice’ ones? It’s an interesting debate to have I guess, but I see no problem with the comment.

This 750th post was filed under: News and Comment.

More posts worth reading

The public health rules (published 23rd February 2019)

Swan in the marina (published 22nd February 2019)

Cortado (published 20th February 2019)

What I’ve been reading this month (published 2nd June 2017)

Mutant Fish With Human Faces Discovered (published 29th January 2005)

Scrubs (published 5th August 2006)

The moral minority (published 23rd January 2005)


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