Who should inform the public on the president’s health? Yale Biomedical Ethics expert weighs in

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NEW HAVEN, Conn. (WTNH) — We’ve seen President Donald Trump’s doctor, Navy Cmdr. Dr. Sean Conley, give updates as the president recovers from contracting COVID-19.

Yale Doctor Sarah Hull said it is appropriate for physicians to talk about medical issues.

“When discussing a more general public health issue such as the COVID pandemic in general, I think you absolutely want physicians and scientists to be leading those press conferences because we want to be taking our cues from experts in the field,” Hull said.

But Hull does not believe a physician should hold a news conference about an individual, like President Trump’s doctors did at Walter Reed Medical Center.

“I think there’s a real conflict of interest there between the physician’s duty to protect the privacy of his or her patient, and the very intention of a press conference which is to disseminate information,” Hull told News 8.

RELATED: President Trump tests negative for coronavirus, White House physician says

Dr. Hull, a Biomedical Ethics expert, said it would be more appropriate to have the administration or a communications person who is not a physician share information.

She said the American public has a right to know when the health of their president’s health is potentially going to affect his ability to serve the oath of office. But, she said a physician may not be at liberty to disclose something if the patient asked them not to.

“That does not mean the physician has the right to answer questions in a way that is misleading or deceitful or simply untruthful,” warned Hull.

And Dr. Hull said one other option would be for the president to talk about his health on his own if he is physically able to do so.

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