Medical Society President warns Doctors of email spying - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Medical Society President warns Doctors of email spying

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June 13, 2006

Albany -- Is Phoebe Putney Hospital spying on its doctors? The President of the Dougherty County Medical Society warns  that the hospital is monitoring doctors' emails. But the hospital says that's not true.

Copies of doctor's emails  critical of Hospital administrators were found in court documents subpoenaed in a lawsuit against Phoebe. And The Medical Society President warns that Phoebe execs could be watching their emails.

 The letter from Dougherty County Medical Society President Dr. Chris Smith was sent to all 165 Doctors of the Society,along with the copies of emails that were discovered in court documents. Dr. Chris Smith said "I think the board was very angry about this. They had no ethical reason to have our personal emails, as we were discussing options that ultimately led up to the act where we asked for Mr. Wernick's resignation."

Phoebe gave Doctors computers to link their offices or homes to link with hospital data. Dr. Smith said in his letter that those "gifts allowed hospital administration to monitor all emails, personal and proprietary..."

Dr. Smith said "The consensus of everyone I have spoken to as a physician, they were not happy that the emails that go through their server were apparently kept and monitored."

Dr. Smith said in his letter "the administration's abuse of our privacy must bring into concern all technical assistance offered by the Hospital." "After this breach of trust, the board of the Dougherty County Medical Society recommends caution in matters of privacy."

Phoebe Putney Officials say the charges are false. Dr. Doug Patten said "We do not screen personal emails."

Phoebe Board Chair John Temp Phillips sent Doctors a letter in response, denying the charges, saying they do not have the technology nor the desire to retrieve information from personal email. They say the emails came off their server only because one doctor had forwarded them to his Hospital email address. 

Williams says the charges are part of an ongoing negative corporate campaign against Phoebe.  Dr. Doug Patten said "No one ever challenges them, and makes them produce the facts to back up the accusations."

 Dr. Patten said the only time Phoebe checks emails is to protect patients health information.

Dr. Smith says two days after his letter was sent, Phoebe told the Medical Society to move their meeting room out of the hospital. Smith said the Medical Society will find a new office.

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