Health professional misconduct hearings: How to dim the media spotlight

Health professionals charged with misconduct by their College should adopt a careful, strategic approach when dealing with the media, says Elyse Sunshine.

“The main thing for health professionals to keep in mind is that, while it’s unpleasant to have your situation covered by the media, you don’t want to do anything to jeopardize your case, such as making a statement,” says Sunshine.

Unfortunately for health professionals, discipline hearings are public from the moment the referral is made to the Discipline Committee, she says.

The College places a notation of the allegations on its website, and if they are dramatic, or viewed as newsworthy, the spotlight can be on the health professional from the beginning, Sunshine adds.

“No one wants to be that person who finds themselves in the headlines, but the reality is these hearings are open to the public. So you cannot prevent the media from being there, or reporting on the story,” she tells AdvocateDaily.com.

Health professionals should follow some basic guidelines in dealing with the media, Sunshine suggests.

Never discuss the case with anyone, including journalists, without first getting your lawyer’s advice, she says.

Moreover, you should avoid making unscripted public comments on your case. Anything you say could be brought up at your hearing, Sunshine says.

“Whether it’s with a friend in a chat on social media, or you give a statement to a reporter, none of that is privileged.”

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