A tragedy raises questions about hospital operations
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As a resident physician and as a former Ivy League college prankster, I have mixed feelings about articles involving the recent Australian disc jockeys' prank call to King Edward VII Hospital ("Nurse Pranked by 'Royals' Call Found Dead," Dec. 8). The two DJs, pretending to be Queen Elizabeth and Prince Charles, called to inquire about the condition of the Duchess of Cambridge. The nurse who took the call, Jacintha Saldanha, was found dead of an apparent suicide three days later, on Dec. 7.
The DJs, Michael Christian and Mel Greig, have been strongly criticized and even blamed for this incident. I admit that the absolute inaccuracy of their accents and the ridiculous nature of the character portrayals were amusing. And, while the call itself was immature and childish in nature, the outrage would not have occurred if the nurse had not died.
I am astounded at the ease by which the pranksters were connected to the floor nurse. The conversation starts with "Oh, hello there, could I please speak to Kate, please, my granddaughter." The pair was immediately connected to the floor nurse. The DJ couple were not asked any identifying information of themselves or the patient. No room number or any other confidential information was confirmed. What the DJs did was foolish but not illegal.
It is sad that this nurse died. It may be unrelated to this phone call. But this 58-suite London hospital does not seem to offer the highest standards of private medical care. It is the privacy that is lacking.
JOHN FALCONE, M.D., M.S.
First Published December 12, 2012 12:00 am