Saturday, December 8, 2012


The Duchess of Cambridge, unbeknownst to most of the world until very recently, is in the early stages of pregnancy.  Kate has been overtaken by hyperemesis graviderium,  a condition described by the medical community as  "pregnancy-accompanying nausea and vomiting that results in dehydration and a loss of 5 per cent of body weight or ten pounds"  --  essentionally graver-than-average morning sickness.  As Kate's pregnancy will, if all goes well,  produce the third person in line for the British monarchy, much fanfare has surrounded the announcement of Kate's state of fertility.

Kate's extreme morning sickness required hospitalization. While she was hospitalized, two DJ's in Australia telephoned the hospital, did a rather lame imitation of her Majesty the Queen  --complete with imitation-barking corgis in the background -- and, despite the amateurishness of their impression skills, were able to persuade a desk nurse to provide information concerning Kate's condition over the phone, which was broadcast live to listeners in Australia.

The queen-impersonating call received media coverage beyond Australia.  The naive nurse, under either the media scrutiny and/or possible employer  reprimand for improper dissemination of confidential information, chose the ultimate solution to the problem by ending her life shortly thereafter via lethal drug overdose.

Elements of our society are now attempting to extract their pound of flesh by calling for some sort of sanctions against the DJs who perpetrated the pranks.  I disagree with their assessment of the situation.

While I am sorry that the nurse in question chose such a drastic and final measure to deal with the discomfiture of the situation, I do not share the opinion of some that the DJs are responsible for her death and must pay in some way. The actions of the nurse in response to the situation seem irrational to my, though I cannot know what other pressures the nurse may have faced.  I will not judge her coping mechanism because I do not know precisely what motivated her to take the rather extreme step she took.

Still, I will state that, assuming the protocols for dissemination of medical protocol in the U.K. are similar to those in the U. S., the nurse erred majorly in a way that even a certified nursing assistant would be expected to know better than to do.  Even had the person on the other end of the line been, in fact, Her Majexty the Queen and not an amateur impersonator, it's possible the nurse gave out more information than should have been provided, depending upon what was indicated on the U.K's equivalent of the HIPAA forms Kate would have completed upon admission to the hospital.  Then, when one considers that Kate is a major media figure and that individuals unauthorized to be briefed regarding her confidential medical information might very well be trying to gain access to that information, it becomes obvious that, in addition to a breach in confidentiality and professionalism, a major lapse in common sense was present.

Bleeding hearts may blame the shock jocks (whose actions, in my opinion, were not all that shocking) until they become proverbially blue-in-the-face, but chance are that the nurse in question was an ethics breach waiting to happen. I'm sorry she chose the life-ending course of action she did, but  the Australian DJs do not have her blood on their hands.


  1. Interesting stance. I hadn't really thought of the violation of Kate's rights in it all. I agree, her death is not their fault. But it is heartbreaking nonetheless.

  2. I agree. While what the DJs did was in poor taste and certainly wrong, they are not responsible for the fact that the nurse killed herself. She must have been dealing with some other significant stressors to take such a drastic measure, especially since all she did was forward the call.

    I bet those Aussie DJs won't try anything that stupid again, though.

  3. Aussies are, by nature, even less reverent than Americans are.