A medical disciplinary committee yesterday found 12 doctors guilty of breaching medical confidentiality by disclosing the health records of Taichung City Mayor-elect Jason Hu (胡志強), as part of a campaign stunt prior to the election.
Lin Deng-juin, the Taichung City Public Health Bureau commissioner announced a one-month medical license suspension of Peter Lin (林進興), a Democratic Progressive Party lawmaker and the physician who led the news conference where the records were made public.
The commissioner said the lawmaker, who received the harshest punishment, deserved what he got since he not only obtained the records through unlawful means, but also discussed Hu's health condition publicly.
The spokesperson of the 12-doctor team, Kao Chia-chun, a dermatologist from Taichung will face a one-month suspension and be required to attend a 32-hour lecture on medical ethics.
"I will not accept the decision because I am innocent of any wrongdoings," Kao said.
Kao Da-cheng, a famous coroner, along with the rest of the doctors will have to attend a 16-hour medical ethics course. He said he has no regrets from attending the press conference.
"If I said I have regrets, then that means I agree to the decision by the committee," said Kao. "I can only blame my own naivete," he added.
Lin explained that the punishments were handed down according to the degree of involvement and remorse of the individual violators.
Seen as a smear campaign tactic, lawmaker Lin and his team divulged Hu's hospital records a few days prior to the election in an attempt to sway the voters to reconsider Hu's ability to lead the city, given that he was in a poor state of health.
As part of their strategy, the team said that due to previous strokes and the likelihood of future episodes, Hu, a Kuomintang incumbent, was unfit for a mayoral post.
In addition to breaking doctor-patient confidentiality, the doctors are also facing a possible charge of forgery as the authenticity of the medical records displayed to the public is being called in question.
The commissioner pointed out that the disciplinary committee handles the misconduct of the doctors, while the prosecution will examine the veracity of the medical records.
Furthermore, since lawmaker Lin is also the director of a hospital in Kaohsiung, his facility must suspend all activities for 30 days.
Bureau of Medical Affairs representative Wang Chiun-lang said that in previous cases of this type, doctors who breached patient-doctor confidentiality were exonerated after they paid a pecuniary penalty.
Upon hearing the news of his suspension, lawmaker Lin reacted furiously and said he will hold a press conference to explain his side of the story. All 12 doctors are expected to file an appeal within the next 20 days.