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As Thai actor fights for his life against dengue his photos and medical information go viral

As Thai actor Tridsadee Sahawong fights for his life and lies in a critical condition fighting dengue hemorrhagic (DHF) fever in the Ramathibodi Hospital, photographs taken of him during his treatment are going viral on social media sites. This invasion of the 37 year olds privacy have lead to calls to protect patients rights in hospital.

Tridsadee SahawongThe National Health Act bans the distribution of patient information, offenders can expect to pay a fine of ten thousand baht and/or spend six months in jail. The Ramathibodi Hospital have said that “taking pictures of patients is strictly prohibited” however they have also released detailed information regarding his health and his treatment. In a statement the hospital revealed that Tridsadee was admitted on Monday after developing severe symptoms of DHF and serious complications, “He is still on the extracorporeal membrane oxygenation” they said, this treatment provides cardiac and respiratory support for patients whose heart and lungs are unable to sustain life unsupported. The statement made by the hospital went on to say that their patient also suffered renal failure and infection, a life threatening disease as well as having had hemothorax, it was also explained that the actors blood PH was now normal along with his brain function and his liver was also recovering.

Although Tridsadee’s condition has raised public awareness of the dangers of DHF, that has affected more than 100,000 people alone this year and killed 100, one has to wonder whether it is an infringement of a patient’s rights to release such a detailed account of his state of health and the treatment he is receiving. It is unclear whether the actor has sanctioned the information released by the hospital so far.

Dr Nawanan Theera-Ammpornpunt said the photos that hit the social media sites of the actors suffering during his illness were not taken at the Ramathibodi Hospital; although he went on to say that he is now planning to draw up guidelines for medical workers regarding the use of social media where patients were concerned. He said that medical workers needed to take care when discussing a patient’s condition, as information could easily be leaked onto social media sites.

Many questions have been asked with regards to graphic photographs appearing on social media sites, many volunteer rescue organizations around Thailand regularly post horrifying photographs of victims of road traffic accidents and in the case of the Koh Tao murders in September last year photographs of the two British victims Hannah Witheridge and David Miller lying dead on the beach after being savagely murdered were posted onto social networks sites within hours of the discovery of their bodies.

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