Dissemination of images and videos of patients in hospitals is punishable by imprisonment in Ecuador
His diagnosis, the arrival at José Joaquín de Olmedo airport, and until his transfer to another health house were recorded in photos and videos that were disseminated through social networks and messaging applications after confirmation of the first case of the coronavirus in Ecuador on last Saturday. It was a patient who had arrived from Spain on February 14 and after the respective test was positive for COVID-19.
Given this, the Minister of Health, Catalina Andramuño, arranged an investigation and said she will punish the people who disseminated the images.
“Upon discovering the case, I spoke with family members and they were very quick to collaborate as long as their mother’s name and worse photographs were not disseminated. I call the citizens, that please, do not spread that kind of messages, that, we respect the life of the patient and her relatives, ”he said in an interview with EL UNIVERSO.
A private clinic, where the woman was treated, filed a criminal complaint against a person who, according to security camera records, would have recorded a video and viralized the images inside the Intensive Care Unit of the health house. The incident occurred around midnight on February 28.
According to the Organic Comprehensive Criminal Code (COIP), the disclosure of secrecy (crime fixed in the complaint) has a penalty of imprisonment of six months to one year and consists of the person for his or her status or trade, employment, profession or art, of a secret whose disclosure may cause harm to another person and reveal it.
In addition to this, the professional would have violated Article 4 of the Law on Rights and Protection of the Patient, which states: “Every patient has the right to have the consultation, examination, diagnosis, discussion, treatment and any type of information related to the procedure doctor to apply, be confidential ”.
Violation of privacy
The criminal lawyer Kléber Siguencia points out that this professional conduct can also be framed in a violation of privacy (article 178). This crime is punishable by imprisonment of one to three years and contemplates the sanction to those who, without having the consent or legal authorization, access, intercept, examine, retain, record, reproduce, disseminate or publish personal data, data messages, voice, audio and video, postal objects, information contained in computer media, private or reserved communications of another person by any means. He clarifies that for the only crime that the person could be tried is for which he was denounced, but the Prosecutor could reformulate charges.
“There is no person authorized to disseminate images within a hospital, precisely because they are in a reserved area and in an area where the privacy of the person is protected and also in the field of the disclosure of the medical history, since that intimate part of the person is exposed … In these professions such as medicine there are certain codes of ethics that contribute to the proper exercise of the profession, ”he said.
The jurisconsult also called for the dissemination of family images as this is also part of the violation of privacy and could lead to other crimes such as hate and discrimination. In addition, if the information regarding the role is shared in a family group, the crime is already being incurred.
“It is not recording for recording but for what purpose I record. If you want to collaborate with justice, record and deliver your device so that it is the prosecutor who handles the information or for that there are security cameras. I can not film people who are kissing, people who are performing intimate acts no matter how public they are, but filming and starting to spread with a goal of morbidity that is already committing a crime, ”he said.
In the case of crimes with less than five years of imprisonment, it can be suspended at the request of a party at the same trial hearing. Among the conditions set are: Reside in a specific place or address, not leave the country without prior authorization, repair the damage or pay a certain sum to the victim as a comprehensive reparation or duly guarantee their payment, among others contemplated in Article 631 of the Criminal Code.