PATIENT-DOCTOR CONFIDENTIALITY, Shaykh Najmuddeen

QUESTION AND ANSWER SESSION WITH SHAYKH NAJMUDDEEN BN SULYMAN (HAFIDHOHULLAAH)

Questioner: Assalaamu ‘alaykum

Shaykh: Wa’alaykumu ssalaam

Questioner: My question is; as it is in the ethics of medical profession, it is said that patient-doctor confidentiality is very important. As a matter of fact, a patient can legally sue a doctor for divulging (a medical information). Of recent, we discovered that some patients are HIV positive, but those patients insist that we mustn’t inform their husbands of their statuses. One of the women involved insists that we must not inform her husband (about her status) meanwhile the husband has been struggling regarding the health of his wife. In view of that, what should be the stand of a Muslim doctor? Moreover, those who argue in favour of this medical stand hold that if (her status is) revealed, the marriage could be at stake.

Shaykh: But in that same medical ethics this is an exceptional case, because if this kind of situation mustn’t be revealed, (then) quarantining the one who has a contagious disease wouldn’t be in the medical ethics since the ethics of quarantine itself is to stop the spread of the illness. If we don’t inform the husband and he also contracts the disease and (thereafter) it starts spreading, the evil it will cause will be heavier than if exposed. There is no one who should accuse a doctor of trespassing if he reveals this kind of situation to the woman’s husband. None! The man must be informed.

This is a practical situation which happened. There is a sister who has been showing a yearning desire to have a child for over fifteen years. Allaah granted her heart desire, but it was through an operation. This woman used to be very healthy, but all of a sudden after her blood sample was collected for some analysis; she started having complications perhaps due to a mistake or the other which resulted from the medical experts. Medicine is been practiced by human beings (and) human beings are not perfect. They (the medical doctors) said her kidney has a problem so she had an operation. Some experts later revealed that she had no kidney problem, after she had been operated. They (the experts) said this situation is a witness to the fact that no one is above mistakes as the scholars of Islaam would say. They didn’t refund the money despite the erroneous operation. If we are to follow the Sharee’ah, they are guilty of a crime, but that is aside (for now).

Also, there is the case of our female brethren who was taken to the hospital, she had an operation which was successful, but the doctors forgot one of their instruments inside her (and it remained in her) for about a year. Due to this, she started having some complications, but the complications didn’t start immediately. She was referred to the same hospital, and the same team of doctors discovered they forgot an instrument in her which was responsible for the complications. She died in the process of the checkup. The husband of this woman and her parents were impressed with the passionate attitude of these doctors not knowing that they were the sabab (means to, or indirect cause) of her death. The doctors, knowing clearly that they were the sabab of her death, wish to pay the diyah (blood money), but they were worried about ‘who to pay the money to’, ‘how to present the case’ and so on. They are afraid that the medical council may withdraw their certificates if the case is revealed. We are still on the case. Anyhow we settle the case, you will hear about it later.

Regarding the case of the woman we were formerly discussing, during the process of screening her collected blood sample, it was discovered that she was HIV positive; meanwhile her husband is negative while the status of the child is yet to be confirmed…If the husband is not informed of her status, what will happen? It will begin to spread. Anything can happen so her husband must be informed. Not only should the husband be informed but also they shouldn’t continue with the relationship because the disease will continue to spread. So there are issues like this, they will explain to her husband, no doubt about it. There is nothing which restricts them from informing the husband of the situation. What remains is management. The fact that they wouldn’t be husband and wife any longer doesn’t mean they can’t be of help to each other regarding some other issues. May Allaah guide us!

[SOURCE: THE TAPE TITLED, “AL-‘AQEEDAH but for easy access it is coded with ‘(Ax) AQIIDAH 354A)”, VENUE OF THE LECTURE, “BILIKISU GIDADO CENTRAL MASJID, OFF -IKOTUN-EGBEDA ROAD, ILEPO ALHAJI BUS STOP, LAGOS”, TIME OF QUESTION AND ANSWER IN THE CLIP: 4 minutes 39 seconds to 10 minutes 22 seconds”]

Aboo Aaishah Al Odeomeey

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