Risk Communication and the Disclosure Dilemma: The Case of Ottawa's Endoscopy Infection 'Scare'
Keywords:Risk Communication, Crisis, Public Health, Ethics, Outrage, Hazard,
In 2011, Ottawa Public Health announced that a non-hospital medical clinic had failed to follow proper infection control measures over a period of 10 years, resulting in the potential exposure of several thousand patients to Hepatitis and HIV. This paper discusses the health department's risk communication strategy, in particular its decision to delay the disclosure of information to the public and the reactions this provoked. The case study provides an opportunity to revisit several key themes: the role news media play in framing public health risk events; the ethical obligations that health communicators have in times of health risk or crisis; the practical limitations that often impose themselves in these circumstances; and how changes in media technology are transforming the landscape for risk communication today and the implications of these changes in the future.
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