The news of the nurse affected by tuberculosis which was widely reported in all the Italian media has attracted the attention of the Italian Authority for the Protection of Personal Data, which has opened an inquiry into the case.
In reporting the news it seems that news agencies and daily newspapers, including their online editions, have released enough data for the identity of the woman suspected of infecting several newborn babies in the infants’ ward where she worked to be recognized.Although the surname of the nurse was never published, many papers reported her given name, the first letter of her surname, her age and the fact that she worked in the department of neonatology at the Policlinico Gemelli in Rome.
In its press release announcing the opening of the investigation the Authority reminds that “the right and duty of journalists to inform the public of the developments of a story which is certainly of fundamental importance for public opinion, considering the significant number of infants and families involved, must be weighed against the respect due to the individual, according to the principles established by the code of ethics. “
For this reason, the Authority recommends that all professionals working in the media should “avoid reporting non-essential information which could adversely affect individual privacy while at the same time provoking further states of alarm and concern in those who have used the health services provided by the hospital in question or have in some way contact with the person involved. “