Monday, January 19, 2009

Can A Hospital Have "Trade Secrets?"

This peculiar newspaper article caught my eye. It concerns a city at the other end of this state, Pittsburgh, and the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center (UPMC). I have not seen this in the Philadelphia news. I predict it is a "local story only", and will probably remain so due to the anechoic effect. I will "un-anechoicize" the story by posting it here.

It seems strange a medical center would claim "trade secrets." Is there a secret way to practice medicine or perform an appendectomy or heart transplant? One would think if there were, it should be shared for the good of all in the literature intended for that purpose - the biomedical literature.

DA seeks records that may aid probe of Montefiore death

Friday, January 16, 2009
By Daniel Malloy
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

The Allegheny County District Attorney's office is executing a search warrant today on UPMC documents that might shed more light on the death of the 89-year-old woman found on the roof of UPMC Montefiore in December.

The warrant is part of the ongoing investigation into the death of Rose Lee Diggs, of Homewood, that has spread into civil court. Investigators are seeking documents that are the subject of a lawsuit by UPMC against Michael R. Tantlinger, a former UPMC security official who the hospital claims stole thousands of pages of confidential materials.

According to court filings, Mr. Tantlinger threatened to release the documents -- which the hospital claims include confidential patient information, internal memos and "trade secrets" -- unless UPMC settled his wrongful termination suit. Mr. Tantlinger, who worked at the Presbyterian and Montefiore campuses, was fired in October.

Ms. Diggs' son, Roderick, subpoenaed the documents from Mr. Tantlinger's attorney because some of them might pertain to his wrongful death lawsuit against UPMC. The hospital is attempting to block that subpoena, saying the documents were obtained illegally.

District Attorney's office spokesman Mike Manko confirmed this morning that investigators will be executing a search warrant for documents that are the subject of a civil suit, but he said the warrant will be under seal.

Odd indeed.

-- SS


Anonymous said...

Why would a patient be on the roof to begin with? And how did they get there? Very odd story indeed.

Trade secrets. I suspect that the term trade secrets used in the statement was a confabulation of sorts to help bolster their legal argument. Either that or they may be hiding something that they don't want public.

Anonymous said...

The trade secret may involve how to continue in the trade of providing substandard care.

Tamara Jones said...

Trade Secret, a term usually used to businesses, like formula or method, to get advantage towards competition. Why would a medical practice could have this kind of trade secrets, is it an organization of practicing medicine without proper medical permit?

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