Thursday, September 27, 2007

Court keeps Hanssen’s secret

Physician discipline cases are rarely a laughing matter, but did anything about Salerian v. Md. State Board of Physicians (PDF), Wednesday’s opinion by the Court of Special Appeals, strike you as a little funny?

No, I don’t mean Judge Peter B. Krauser’s choice of “irrefragably” when “undeniably” or even “irrefutably” would have done just as well. I’m talking about the court’s painstaking refusal to name the patient, or rather, the “Evaluee,” when he is clearly one of the most infamous figures in recent history.

So, rest easy, “spy of the century” Robert P. Hanssen: You may be an admitted turncoat; you may be the subject of countless stories, several books and even a major motion picture now out on DVD; but your secret identity is safe with the Court of Special Appeals.

Health care privacy is a laudable goal, and I understand why the Board of Physicians doesn’t name the patients in disciplinary actions against the doctor. But do the same restrictions apply to the court? In a case like this one, why should they?

-BARBARA GRZINCIC, Managing Editor, Law

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