Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Pennsylvania Gags Doctors

In the service of the oil and gas industry, Pennsylvania recently passed a law that gags doctors from discussing certain health concerns related to fracking. Really.

In particular, the bill (House Bill No. 1950) requires that companies disclose information about chemicals that a health professional suspects may be related to a patient's problems, but if those chemicals are claimed to be a trade secret the doctor may not use that information outside the context of treating the specific patient, and the doctor must keep that information confidential.

That means, if a doctor suspects a fracking chemical or procedure is making a specific patient ill, he or she may not make that widely known, including, apparently, to the patient. How sick is that?

Here's the specific language of the bill, from pages 98-99:
(11)  If a health professional determines that a medical emergency exists and the specific identity and amount of any chemicals claimed to be a trade secret or confidential proprietary information are necessary for emergency treatment, the vendor, service provider or operator shall immediately disclose the information to the health professional upon a verbal acknowledgment by the health professional that the information may not be used for purposes other than the health needs asserted and that the health professional shall maintain the information as confidential. The vendor, service provider or operator may request, and the health professional shall provide upon request, a written statement of need and a confidentiality agreement from the health professional as soon as circumstances permit, in conformance with regulations promulgated under this chapter.
Ecowatch has much more. For example, companies that frack do not have to disclose what chemicals or procedures they use (except in the case of medical emergencies in the context above).

I'm somewhat speechless. It's rare you see such such an official disregard for people's health made so explicit, or corporate favoritism made so stark.

1 comment:

Dano said...

This is how corporatocracies roll.