Sunday, April 22, 2012

Human health vs. corporate secrecy

From the LATimes:

Once again, Republican dominated state government is choosing concealment and protection for multi billion dollar corporations over the health of human beings.  A new law in Pennsylvania makes doctors fear to seek information on the chemicals to which their patients have been exposed.

-- The law compels natural gas companies to give inquiring healthcare professionals information about the chemicals used in their drilling and production processes — but only after the doctors or nurses sign a  confidentiality agreement.
  "I just want to make my patients healthy," (Dr.) Pare said, adding that she might sign an agreement. "And I  can't do that if I don't know what it is that's making them sick."
Supporters of the Pennsylvania law —- including the gas industry, Republican Gov. Tom Corbett and many legislators — said it was designed to help healthcare providers. Environmental groups and opposing  lawmakers said the provision was not in the natural gas law's original version and was slipped in behind  closed doors at the last minute by industry-friendly legislators. --

So the law's defenders say it will "increase disclosure," even as it prevents doctors from treating their patients effectively.  Yes, it helps doctors in not treating their patients.  What could be better than that?  Although, it does sound a lot like doublethink from the dystopian novel, 1984...

 -- "Right now, any physician reading the law would not go anywhere near the issue, because the language of the law has a very chilling effect," said Dr. Bernard Goldstein, former dean of the University of Pittsburgh  Graduate School of Public Health and an expert on possible health effects of natural gas development. "I  very much hope that the regulations permit" information sharing, he added.

Dr. Mehernosh Khan, who has filed suit against the state over the provision, (complained.... ). "The law sets up a precedent for doctors not  being able to practice medicine properly." --

But at least the corporation can continue keep secret the chemicals they're pumping into the environment.  That's so much more important than the health of Pennsylvanian families, isn't it?

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