Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Colorado docs chafe at secrecy oath needed for access to chemical list

Colorado docs chafe at secrecy oath needed for access to chemical list
"Colorado doctors are challenging a confidentiality pledge they must sign to get information on chemicals used by the oil and gas industry — information they may need to treat patients and protect public health.  A state requirement that doctors sign Form 35, developed last year by the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment and the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission, aims to protect industry trade secrets while also letting doctors fulfill duties.  But the Colorado Medical Society contends the form does not protect doctors from punishment for sharing information about chemicals with other medical professionals and public health authorities. No doctor has signed the form.

"I would have very mixed feelings about signing a form that tells me I could not be proactive about sharing this information with the health department," Dr. Michael Pramenko, a family physician in Grand Junction and former president of the 7,000-member medical society. "To me, if there's a chemical in the environment and there are potentially other people being exposed, it does not make sense, from a health standpoint, to not be sharing that information."

The issue is complex because it pits oil and gas companies protecting trade secrets against residents' health and doctors' diagnoses of ailments."


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