The South West Regional Health Authority (SWRHA) is investigating an apparent breach of patient confidentiality after photos of a woman who was allegedly chopped by her 15-year-old son were posted on social media.
Graphic photos of the woman’s injuries, including a severed hand and gaping wounds to her head, face and shoulder, were being widely circulated on Facebook and WhatsApp throughout the weekend. They appeared to show a badly injured woman on a hospital bed or stretcher.
In a statement, the SWRHA said it was concerned that pictures were being circulated of the woman, who is warded at the San Fernando General Hospital.
“The SWRHA is guided by the Patient Charter of Rights and Obligations and recognises our first and foremost duty is to our patients. This includes protecting patients’ privacy and guaranteeing the confidentiality of our medical care.
“The SWRHA has since launched an investigation in order to ascertain the details surrounding the release of these images and will treat with the matter appropriately,” the statement said.
Concern was also expressed about another photo posted on social media connected to the incident. Yesterday, the Children’s Authority appealed to the public to refrain from “sharing via social media and other platforms, the identity of a child, who was released without charges for allegedly chopping his mother.”
The agency said: “As an advocate for the rights of all children, the Authority’s overall objective is to provide care and protection for children regardless of their circumstances.
“The Authority notes that in recent times the identities of children, who come to its attention, have been shared via social media. However, these actions can create further trauma to the children and their families involved, thereby making rehabilitation difficult.
“As a result, the Authority is calling on the public to remove all images of the child and his family from their social media accounts.”
Doctors were able to reattach the woman’s hand after ten hours of surgery, but she remains warded.
She was allegedly attacked and chopped on April 19 after she took away her son’s cellphone and scolded him about his school work.
After a week in police custody, the teenager, a student at a prestigious secondary school in Chaguanas, was released because of lack of evidence. His mother has not given the police a statement and is unwilling to press charges.
The Children’s Authority has offered counselling to the teenager, but National Security Minister Edmund Dillon said in Parliament on Friday that the family is not ready to talk to anyone.
Investigations into the incident are continuing.
Source: www.guardian.co.tt (Sascha Wilson)