As I mentioned in previous posts, Johns Hopkins’ first breach statement about OB/GYN patients who may have been secretly photographed or videotaped by a physician included a reference to “counseling” for patients. Since this was the first time I’ve ever seen a reference to “counseling” in a breach notification statement and it struck me as a potentially meaningful way to help mitigate harm from the breach, I contacted Johns Hopkins to inquire as to the scope of the counseling and whether it might include face-to-face counseling for patients who were distraught over having been secretly taped.
Today I received a statement from Johns Hopkins:
We are offering his patients free, face-to-face, professional counseling services that focus on crisis response, stabilization, and referrals for longer term treatment if/when needed. The counselors providing this service are masters and doctorate level clinicians with a minimum of 5 years general practice experience, though most have more than that. We are committed to working with people through stabilization; if conditions are assessed that indicate longer term treatment is appropriate, we will assist in making an appropriate referral. This means if the client has health insurance, we will work with that plan to find a therapist; if not, we will refer to a community mental health resource.
As I have seen them do in the past, Johns Hopkins is once again rising to the challenge of a breach, and while I realize some will not find their response satisfactory, I am impressed with their offer.
This breach is a nightmare for many patients who still don’t know whether they were among those who were photographed or videotaped, for those who worry that the doctor may have uploaded videos to gynecology fetish web sites, for the doctor’s family, and for the hospital. Seldom do I see breaches with such potential for psychological harm and/or for making patients afraid to trust doctors. Whatever Johns Hopkins can do to mitigate the harm caused by the doctor’s actions, I sincerely hope it helps.