Collision of journalist/physician ethics

A doctor who wrote an essay in excruciating detail about the death of a
Canadian reservist in Afghanistan was censured by the B.C. College of
Physicians and Surgeons.

A college press release said
“Dr. Kevin Lee Patterson has admitted that he was guilty of unethical
and unprofessional conduct with respect to breaching patient

Patterson crossed the line as a physician. In my opinion, though, he
performed a public service in informing citizens about Afghanistan, and
produced a fine piece of journalism.

The college said Patterson “breached his professional duty of
confidentiality by writing an article which identified personal health
information, including the name and details of his treatment of his
patient, Canadian Forces Corporal Kevin Megeney (deceased), when he had
no consent to do so. The article was published in the July/August 2007
edition of Mother Jones magazine.”

His punishment is a formal written reprimand, “participation in reading
and continuing medical education in the areas of ethics and
professionalism,” assessment of $5,000 in costs and donation of his
$7,000 fee from Mother Jones to a charity. The college said it took
into account Patterson’s “admission of guilt, his contriteness and
remorse for his conduct, and his full cooperation throughout the
College’s investigative process.”