Physicians College orders doctors not to reveal locations of COVID-19 cases - InfoNews

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Physicians College orders doctors not to reveal locations of COVID-19 cases

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March 27, 2020 - 5:00 PM

The B.C. College of Physicians and Surgeons is ordering doctors in the province not to disclose the location of COVID-19 positive patients, saying doing so may be considered as unprofessional conduct.

The the regulator says in a practice direction that sharing the location of where a COVID-19 case is located is "not acceptable."

"Physicians must not disclose information about individual patients in any setting, including stories shared directly with other people, even if patient identities are not revealed," the college says in the statement. "In the event of a complaint from an affected patient, a breach of this nature may be considered unprofessional conduct."

The College said they had recently learned doctors had shared the name of towns where COVID-19 cases had been found on social media or with the press.

"This is not acceptable," reads the statement. "The risk of a privacy breach is too great."

Two Interior health clinics have recently gone public with information of COVID-19 and both cited public interest in disclosure.

On March 17, the Selkirk Medical Group in Revelstoke posted on its Facebook page the town had its first positive COVID-19 case.

"We'd rather you hear it locally first," the post said.

The Sun Peaks Health Centre took a similar approach announcing March 22 that a doctor who worked at the clinic had tested positive for COVID-19. The clinic said it didn't disclose the doctor's name until all patients that may have been exposed had been contacted, but released the information in "the interest of the community."

Both of the clinic's approaches - put out to quash rumours - appear to go against the College's directive.

"Please follow the guidance of the provincial health officer and refrain from adding to the confusion and anxiety by posting alarming messages or storytelling," the College's statement says.


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