Legal action mulled vs person who leaked photo of dead meningo patient

DAVAO CITY (MindaNews/04 September) – The management of Brokenshire Hospital Integrated Health Ministries Inc. said it is eyeing legal action against the person who leaked on social media the gruesome photo of a four-year-old boy who succumbed to meningococcemia last Friday.

Dr. Jack Estuart, the patient’s attending physician, said the leaked photo was “totally unacceptable,” assuring the boy’s parents that it did not come from the hospital.

He said the hospital is working with the government to track down the person who shared the photo online.

The photo, shared over the weekend contained misleading information which alarmed Dabawenyos, prompting the hospital management and the Department of Health (DOH) to issue separate statements to dispel misinformation about the disease.

“We would like to assure, the hospital respects and strictly follows the data privacy. We are very sensitive to the patient’s privacy. We are strict on that and we are very, very sad that this thing happened. We are taking appropriate action,” Estuart said.

He added the hospital management is investigating how the photo leaked to social media.

“Currently, we are investigating how that happened and we are coordinating with the appropriate government agencies to track how that happened,” he added.

DOH-Davao regional director Annabelle Yumang added there is no need to panic as she explained that the bacteria causing the meningococcal disease is not easily transmitted.

Yumang said post-exposure prophylaxis was immediately administered to the pupils and teachers of a pre-school where he studied, family members and emergency room staff of the hospital.

“A team from the department visited the school and met with teachers and parents of other children to alleviate fears and ensure that they have correct information about the disease,” she said.

A briefer released by DOH-Davao said bacteria can spread from one person to another through respiratory droplets from coughing, sneezing, kissing, or sharing foods, drinks and utensils.

It added patients who have contracted the bacteria will manifest the following signs and symptoms: fever; cough, sore throat, and other respiratory symptoms; the appearance of pinpoint rashes (map-like and bruise-like patches) on legs and arms that become wider; severe skin lesions, which lead to gangrene; untestable vital signs; and may or may not have signs of meningitis, such as the stiff neck, convulsion (in some cases), delirium, altered mental status and vomiting.

It said early recognition of meningococcal infection and prompt treatment with penicillin will greatly improve the chances of survival of the patients.

Patients who show signs and symptoms of the infection are also advised to immediately consult a doctor, especially in areas where there are reported cases of meningococcemia.

It said people are also encouraged to consult their doctors if they suffer from fever and manifest symptoms after visiting the places with reported cases in the past 10 days.

They are advised to get themselves immunized with the meningococcal conjugate vaccine if they live in a high-risk community, avoid crowded places, avoid close contacts with meningococcemia patients, increase resistance by having a healthy lifestyle and avoiding alcohol, maintain clean environment, and avoid sharing utensils used by an infected person. (Antonio L. Colina IV/MindaNews)