Liberia: House Summons JFKMC for Breach of Privacy of Late Rep. Sloh

-- But hospital denies culpability

Unanimously, members of the House of Representatives voted to summon authorities of the John F. Kennedy Medical Center (JFKMC), including nurses and doctors assigned in the Private Room or Ward for breach of health privacy of the late Rep. J. Nagbe Sloh.

Rep. Sloh died on Tuesday, June 30 of a protracted illness, at the age of 55.

The House's Plenary, which responded with "shock and deep sadness" made the decision on Thursday, July 2, following a communication from Grand Bassa County Representative Thomas Goshua.

The House observed a moment of silence to commemorate Rep. Sloh's death, as was done when Rep. Adolph Lawrence died on March 24, 2019.

Rep. Goshua argued that the breach of privacy and confidentiality could not only affect a person's dignity, but can cause harm.

"We believe that respecting privacy (and autonomy) is a form of recognition of the attributes that give humans their moral uniqueness."

It may be recalled, hours after his demise, photos of the Sinoe County Dstrict #2 Represenative's lifeless body went viral on social media, including a video of the late Representative being worked on by a native doctor.

Rep. Goshua, in his communication to his colleagues, complained that the photograph of their fallen colleague, which was taken in his private room at the JFKMC, is currently being displayed grossly on social media with denigrating comments from all viewers without regard to his family and the Honorable House of Representatives.

The Grand Bassa County wonders how the picture of their fallen statesman got into the public glare when they're supposed to observe privacy of patients at the JFKMC and all medical facilities.

According to Plenary decision, authorities of the JFKMC, along with all nurses who were in charge of the late the late Representative, are expected to appear on Monday, July 6, to answer to questions on the alleged breach of health privacy.

Accordingly, depending on the level of responsibility or culpability attributed to the hospital by plenary, the House of Representatives would recommend to the Board of JFKMC or the Management for harsher fines and penalties for inappropriate or unauthorized use of information or breach of health privacy of the late Rep. Sloh. There might be recommendations of either Civil fines or criminal penalties.

A similar occurrence was in the case of the late famous Liberian musical recording artist, 'Quincy B', minutes after he was pronounced dead upon arrival. Pictures of the late Quincy's corpse were seen on social media.

In a quick response to the release of the photos of the late Rep. Sloh taken during his stay at the hospital, the management of the JFKMC distanced itself from the photos, saying that friends and relatives of the late Representative had access to the private ward.

"We believe the photo circulating the social media could have only been taken by relatives and friends who had access to the patient during his admission," JFK said.

"The Management strongly condemns this inhumane and horrible act and calls on individuals involved in the unauthorized recording, photographing and filming of patients within the premises of the Medical Center to desist.

The JFK management added that it takes "keen interest in the protection and promotion of patients' privacy and has since instituted a Patient Privacy Policy (PPP) which protects the privacy of every patient."

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