No gag order issued, instruction to protect individual’s right to privacy and confidentiality

emilee11012017PHILIPSBURG:— The rumored ‘gag order’ supposedly intended to hamper the functioning of the inspectorate as described by SMN-News and certain Members of Parliament is far from the reality. Indeed, an MB or instruction was issued to the inspectorate with the sole objective of protecting the rights to privacy of patients and medical personnel as guaranteed in St Maarten’s constitution. This MB was quite simply intended to further define how details on reports of patients and medical professionals are to be handled in order to protect individual’s rights and the Ministry from any potential liabilities or additional court cases.

Based on a legal case of possible violation of patient and medical specialist right to privacy, which is now in court following a lawsuit by SMMC against the inspectorate, the Minister felt it was necessary to ensure that a clear public and transparent policy on how potentially private information would be released and under what conditions and procedures.
Although the inspectorate has an internal communication policy, due to concerns about current litigation, the Inspector General refused to provide a copy of the internal communication policy to the Minister. Instead, cabinet members were only allowed to look at the policy through a supervised visit.

Therefore, in the absence of a policy an MB was developed. Not to prevent the Inspectorate from full-filling its obligations but rather to prevent possible breaches of individual’s right to privacy and confidentiality.

Unfortunately, the MB was misinterpreted and even after further clarification was provided the MB still continued to be misinterpreted. Therefore, based on a request from Dr. Best and in an effort to forestall further misunderstandings the MB was withdrawn and a hearing was held. During this hearing a hard copy of the current internal communication policy was provided. The policy was marked confidential and the Minister was informed that it could not be shared publicly as it was an internal policy of the Inspectorate. As a result, the Minister and the Inspectorate agreed that the Inspectorate would develop a public version of the internal policy and based on this agreement no new MB would be issued.

Minister Emil Lee and Dr. Earl Best have found common ground and are working together to develop a clear public policy that outlines how information will be handled by the Inspectorate. The process of working to find balance between inspectorate’s role and patient/doctor confidentiality is a healthy process.

“There are those in the community who for malicious reasons would like to drive a wedge between the Inspectorate and the Minister, but I am fully supportive of the Inspectorate and it’s critical role in improving our community. The process of getting clarity on procedures, responsibilities, and authorities is a healthy process. A process that in general, the entire government needs to pursue.

“At no time was it my intention to prevent the Inspectorate from carrying out its obligations as stipulated in our legislation. In the interest of public health, I would like the community to rest assured that the Ministry of VSA, which includes the Inspectorate of VSA remains committed toward fulfilling our obligations to the community in safeguarding public health.”, stated Minister Lee

Editor’s Note:– The Minister of VSA Emil Lee needs to get himself informed with the laws that govern St. Maarten. He cannot impose the US laws on St. Maarten. Healthcare is crucial and the people should get the best healthcare possible. In this press release, the Minister chose to lie again. First of all prior to issuing an MB, the parties have to be heard. In this case the party (Inspectorate was not heard until after they appealed, the Minister himself said last Wednesday that he withdrew the MB because the Inspectorate felt they needed to be heard)
The Minister know fully well that the case SMMC is referring is in court but he simply could not wait on the outcome of that court case. In his bid to protect SMMC and its constant malpractice, the Minister chose to protect the SMMC. He hired a teacher, who did a management course to audit the Inspectorate and the public health department while he went against pieces of advice given by both departments and issued MB’s to unqualified specialists at the people’s risk. The Minister went on to say that the Inspector General requested him to withdraw the MB, again another lie from the Minister. The Inspectorate filled an appeal against the flawed MB,  the case was supposed to be heard on Tuesday. April 4th, it was after the Minister realized that he was taken to court he decided to clarify an MB ( how stupid is that ? doesn’t the Minister know that he cannot clarify an MB?)

If the Minister and his cabinet staff could be trusted then he might have gotten the policy he requested. Furthermore, the Minister’s role is to ensure that healthcare institutions abide by the laws of St. Maarten which by way are Dutch laws. Everyone could see that the Minister is attacking his own staff and is protecting SMMC at the expense of the people. So while the Minister thinks he could throw stones he should come clean and let the people know why is it he is not supporting his department but instead trying to force an enforcement entity to negotiate norms with the SMMC when he knows that is not normal procedure. 

Source: St. Martin News Network
No gag order issued, instruction to protect individual’s right to privacy and confidentiality