Aspects of a new oil and gas law in Pennsylvania have some physicians up in arms. One such physician, Alfonso Rodriguez, a kidney specialist, has filed a federal lawsuit in U.S. District Court in Scranton, saying that Act 13 will force him to violate the ethical rules that govern how a physician treats his patients.
According to Rodriguez’ lawsuit, the confidentiality requirements of the law affects how physicians discuss chemical exposure with their patients. This is very important, as Rodriguez regularly treats workers exposed to fracking fluids. According to his attorney, “He is the doctor fracking-fluid exposees go to. It’s not hypothetical that he’s going to need to make use of this law. He may have to go to the gas companies to get information on an ongoing basis.”
According to the Philadelphia Inquirer, Pennsylvania officials said the medical provisions were put in place to prevent “roadblocks”, however the law needs clarification. State Sen. Daylin Leach (D., Montgomery) said “The act is silent on a number of issues, the most important being with whom a physician can share information, even if there is a possible public-health risk at stake. I hope to better clarify the language of the act in order to protect all parties involved.”
The lawsuit requests the court to suspend the medical provisions included in Act 13, until Pennsylvania clarifies the regulations, and names Public Utilities Commission Chairman Robert Powelson, Environmental Protection Secretary Michael Krancer, and state Attorney General Linda Kelly as defendants.
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Pennsylvania Physician Sues over New Fracking Law