Puerto Rican medical doctors working in Haiti treating victims of the January 12, 2010 earthquake that killed over 200,000, appeared in several questionable photographs posted on FaceBook. In the pictures the doctors were posed in medical scrubs, holding guns borrowed from Dominican soldiers, drinking alcohol, laughing and posing with patients in various forms of undress and injury.
In another, a doctor grins as he holds a saw next to a victim's leg, and a colleague mugs for the camera as he holds up the injured arm of an earthquake victim. Yet others show the doctors holding up condoms, drinking beer, or smiling as they stand beside a coffin.
One picture depicts a prostrate quake victim wearing nothing but a shirt and a small strip of cloth over the genitals.
The president of the Puerto Rican Senate called for the names of the doctors to be made public, a motion supported by Julissa Nolasco, president of the Health Committee of the House of Representatives.
"I hope they can provide an understandable explanation for such a regrettable act," she said.
The five soldiers who allowed the doctors to hold their weapons were arrested pending the investigation's outcome, Dominican Defense Minister Lt. Gen. Rafael Pena Antonio said in a statement. (CBS)
These doctors are just a handful of the over 65 Puerto Rican physicians who are working in Haiti so they are hopefully not representative of the group as a whole. There are several concerns here, the alcohol, the guns, the eerie images of injured patients being subjected to chainsaws held over their wounds and their bodies being bared for all present and the camera to see.
Even more important is the physical treatment of the patients. Do we know that no patients were harmed physically or emotionally? And what of their right to privacy? I feel certain that no informed consent to take or distribute the photos on FaceBook or anywhere else were obtained from the victims. Physicians are only allowed to take photographs or video of patients only if they will be used for teaching purposes and only if they patient or their family give permission.