Journalists and media associations: Media must not publish medical records data


BELGRADE, 27.03.2020. – Journalists and media associations remind colleagues that the disclosure of medical record data of the persons being reported about does not comply with professional standards, the Journalist’s Code of Ethics, or with the Law on Personal Data Protection, the Law on Patients’, Rights and the Law on Health

These documents stipulate that the information about the health status, including diseases of someone is suffering from, fall into the domain of privacy and must not be published without explicit consent of the person concerned. The only exceptions are those in which one’s health status may affect the safety, health and any other integrity of citizens.

The disclosure of details about the condition of patients who have fallen ill or deceased from COVID-19 is particularly problematic because it violates not only the right to the dignity of the deceased (as defined in paragraph 5 of Chapter 4 of the Journalist’s Code of Ethics), but it also affects the privacy of their families (paragraph 1 Chapter 7 of the Journalist’s Code of Ethics).

Health status of public figures can only be published with their explicit consent, without speculation and violation of privacy.

The fact that state officials and members of medical teams occasionally publicly disclose information about health status of the deceased does not absolve journalists from responsibility to respect the professional standards.

Journalists and media associations are urging media and journalists to, in times of great tension in the society, take special precaution when assessing the effects of their work on individuals and their families and remember they should work only in public interest.

Association of Online Media

Media Association

Association of Independent Electronic Media

Association of Independent Local  Media (Local Press)

Independent Journalists Association of Serbia

Independent Journalists Association of Vojvodina