Invasion of Privacy in Malaysia: A surgery turns sour!

By: Sonny Zulhuda

This is particularly a court decision that will attract many who are curious about law on invasion of privacy in Malaysia. The timing could not be more intriguing that now when the first privacy-related legislation was recently passed in the form of the Personal Data Protection Act 2010. No, this Act was not in the case (yet?), not even possibly so because the Act is still now not enforced. This case was instead dealt with under the civil law of torts.

As reported by the Sun Daily (3/9/2010), Judicial Commissioner Chew Soo Ho who sit in Penang High Court heard this suit brought about by a female writer against the doctors who were involved in a haemorrhoid surgery back in 2006. The point of concern was the fact that a doctor had taken photographs of her private parts while she was unconscious — without getting her prior consent.

Chew in his decision said: “A (medical) practitioner ought to be sensitive to female patients in the country, where morality, religious barrier, decency, modesty and dignity are still considered highly, and any photograph of intimate parts of the anatomy should have their consent.”

For further reading of the report (The Sun), click on the image to enlarge.

Read also: Docs need consent to take pics of intimate parts” (The Star)

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In a related development, the Star reported that the Malaysian Medical Council (MMC) has cautioned doctors to get their patients’ consent if they need to take photographs or videos of their medical treatment. Its ethics committee chairman Datuk Dr Abdul Hamid Abdul Kadir said that it was a known professional code for doctors to get patients’ consent, even if it was just for record keeping. He added that doctors may claim that they only take unidentifiable pictures for teaching purposes, but it does not justify the act if they did not get patients’ consent. In summing up, Datuk Dr. Abdul Hamid reckoned that this incident is related to doctor-patient confidentiality, which is sacrosanct.

For further reading, go to the report by The Star daily.

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