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Publication ban denied – P.E.I. judge protects patient identity but allows witness names in doctor’s court fight

A P.E.I. Court of Appeal judge has denied a publication ban request covering some of the witnesses involved in a fight over a doctor’s hospital privileges.

Dr. Ian Reid filed a judicial review of a Health P.E.I. board of directors’ decision that limited his privileges at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital.

Health P.E.I. sought a publication ban on any information that could identify witnesses who were involved in the initial hearing that dealt with Reid’s privileges.

In a recent decision, Justice John Mitchell wrote there was no evidence on which he could conclude there was a serious risk to the integrity of the health-care system if witness names weren’t protected.

“While the applicants fear that health professionals will not be forthcoming in the future, that fear has no evidentiary basis,” he said.

In November, lawyers for Reid, Health P.E.I. and the Provincial Medical Advisory Committee appeared before Mitchell in Charlottetown.

Health P.E.I. sought to have the original record sealed and a new, redacted version filed with the court to protect the identity of patients involved.

It also sought a publication ban covering those patients and other witnesses, including nine doctors and four nurses or former nurses.

Mitchell said keeping the medical records confidential was an important public interest and he granted the order related to patient information and identities.

Health P.E.I. also argued the names of witnesses should be redacted or disguised to protect the integrity of the system.

If witness names were in the public record or the media they could be reluctant to come forward when there are issues in the health system in the future, Health P.E.I. argued.

Mitchell disagreed, saying the people involved are professionals.

“While Health P.E.I. may not have the ability to subpoena them, medical professionals have an ethical and professional responsibility to provide information and evidence when the integrity of the health system is at stake.”

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