A question of ethics

A doctor gets sued for medical malpractice and falsification of records. A newspaper publishes a story. Another newspaper (ours) decides to wait for the doctor’s response in court, which will happen within days.

Read the story and some of the comments. Then come on back and tell us what you would do if you were the editor making the call.

We’ll talk about this in class.

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9 Responses to A question of ethics

  1. I think it was right of the Missourian to wait until the doctor’s response in court. This case could ruin the doctor’s practice and career it sounds like from the other article. We do not know if the doctor really did commit malpractice or not. I think it is only fair to have both sides tell the story.

  2. Jason Cox says:

    I agree with the Missourian’s decision. I definitely don’t think you should publish the doctor’s name if he has not been found guilty. The accusation alone could ruin his career, and he may not be guilty of anything. I would wait to see how it plays out.

  3. Dan Everson says:

    Well, I just checked Case.net, and attorney Hamp Ford Jr. filed an answer with the court Aug. 4 — within 2 days of the Trib story.
    The Tribune did try to talk with both University Hospital and the physician. But I think that begs the question of whether it is ethically sufficient just to call those two sources — especially when it’s quite unlikely they will agree to comment.
    I suppose my question is how certain we were that the answer would be forthcoming shortly. If it were going to take a month, I think it would be reasonable to run the story as is, so long as we were sure to do a story about the answer, as well.
    But if we knew the defense would answer shortly, as seems to be the case here, it seems better to wait a few days and give them a chance to respond.

  4. leeannelias says:

    The way this story is organized lends itself to seeming to favor the plaintiff. While this sentence appears: “University Hospital spokeswoman Mary Jenkins said the hospital’s policy is to not comment on pending litigation,” in the story, it is followed by “Calls and an e-mail to Hahn-Cover were not returned,” and more information. While this may be factually correct, the repetition makes it seem like Hahn-Cover was refusing to talk out of guilt, rather than following official policy.

  5. alyshalove says:

    I agree with LeeAnn—I think the article is very slanted. It bothers me that only one e-mail was sent, which makes me think that “phone calls” means they only tried to call twice.

    Subsequently, I think it was inappropriate to continue to make a jab at her current position by quoting the hospital’s website and a year-old press release. It feels like they were trying too hard to make her look bad and point out the irony in the case at hand. This becomes especially inappropriate if they never follow up with her for comments at a later time.

  6. alyshalove says:

    Also, Dan— props for using Case.net 🙂

  7. Gianna says:

    I think I would wait, personally.

    Possibly ruining a medical professional’s career should he be found innocent is a big problem to me.

    My dad always told me that there’s never just one side of the story when I was very little and obviously we know this is true, but I think that, if possible, both sides should be heard before a synopsis of the event is presented.

  8. Hilary says:

    I definitely think The Missourian was right in waiting. The story seems slanted without the physician’s input, and she should have a chance to defend or explain herself just as much as the people suing her should. Like Gianna says, there are two sides to every story and it’s not really fair to hear just one.

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