Bioethics News

Germanwings pilot had seen 41 doctors in 5 years

Further revelations about the co-pilot of the Germanwings crash in which 150 people died have raised questions about medical confidentiality. A prosecutor in Paris said this week that Andreas Lubitz had seen 41 doctors in five years. Further investigations have uncovered the fact that he suffered from psychosis and was terrified of losing his sight.

In a letter to a doctor written on March 10, for instance, Lubitz said he was sleeping only two hours a night even though he was taking a double dose of antidepressants. “He consulted private doctors and these doctors were clearly aware of his health problems, which were both psychological and psychiatric,” said the French official. However, due to strict medical privacy rules, the doctors could not pass this information to the pilot’s employers. The Wall Street Journal says:

“The French probe goes to the heart of a broader discussion over whether stringent privacy laws in Germany and other parts of Europe should be relaxed when it comes to aviation safety. Laws aimed at protecting privacy and doctor-patient privilege allowed Mr Lubitz to conceal his condition from Germanwings, the budget airline of Deutsche Lufthansa , and ignore at least one doctor’s opinion that he shouldn’t have flown the day of the crash.”

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