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Court tests the limits of doctor-patient confidentiality

A French court found Israeli doctor Yehuda David guilty of slandering Al Dura. Eleven years ago Dura’s son was killed in the Intifada riots by friendly Palestinian fire, and for a decade the incident was blamed on IDF.

The doctor revealed that he had treated Dura Sr for a hand injury six years before the Arab attributed the wound to IDF fire.

The court found the evidence to be covered by doctor-patient confidentiality, and thus inadmissible. The doctor’s words were accordingly declared libel.

Despite universal condemnation of the court in Jewish media, the decision was pretty straightforward. The doctor attempted to achieve commendable political goals by committing a small ethical violation, and was fined for that violation.

More interestingly, the verdict raises the question of whether doctor-patient confidentiality should be absolute, covering even mundane injuries, or confined to hidden conditions, as originally intended?

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Comments

Medics are encouraged to break confidentaility to save lives. For example, where a suspected murderer is on the loose, or an epileptic insists on driving on motorways.
The blood libel of Al-Dura has cost a lot more lives than that, and exposing the father’s mendaciousness is well justified on medical ethical grounds, whatever the French court thinks. (I am a practising medic).

charles soper London 30 April 2011

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