Republican Gas Law Violates Medical Ethics

Leading Public Health Official Says Impact Fee Law Violates Medical Ethics

February 16, 2012 | 12:02 PM
BySusan Phillips
Scott LaMar / WITF

Pennsylvania’s Capi­tol

Pub­lic health pro­fes­sion­als say the impact fee law signed by Gov­er­nor Cor­bett this week could hurt the deliv­ery of health ser­vices to injured work­ers or res­i­dents liv­ing near gas drilling sites. The leg­is­la­tion allows drillers to with­hold infor­ma­tion on the chem­i­cals used to frack nat­ural gas wells if the com­pany deems them pro­pri­etary, or a trade secret. This would include the chemical’s iden­tity and the con­cen­tra­tion level.

A pro­vi­sion does allow health providers access to the infor­ma­tion in order to treat a patient, but requires the health­care worker to sign a con­fi­den­tial­ity agree­ment, that oblig­ates the med­ical pro­fes­sional to use the infor­ma­tion only to treat an indi­vid­ual patient. Dr. Jerome Paul­son, Pro­fes­sor of Pedi­atrics & Pub­lic Health at George Wash­ing­ton Uni­ver­sity, says the law runs counter to med­ical ethics.

“All of the oaths (of the med­ical pro­fes­sion) require us to work for the good of the pub­lic in addi­tion to the indi­vid­ual patients,” said Paul­son in a phone inter­view. “So block­ing our abil­ity to col­lect and share infor­ma­tion, or make the col­lec­tion and shar­ing of infor­ma­tion more cum­ber­some, means we wont be able to ful­fill our responsibilities.”

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