Not permitted to speak publicly. Is there anything behind this?

In the NYC hospital shooting I read the following:

What does that last bit mean in reality? Does it mean exactly what it says and the surgeons would be reprimanded if identified? Or is it an unofficial way for the hospital to communicate with the press without bearing liability for anything said? I see these statements so often and I always think why would anyone risk their job to feed stuff to the media? Which is when I began to think there was more to it. So am I right to be suspicious or am I thinking too cynically?

Generally, after an event like this, the management does not want rumors being spread, so they only allow certain people to comment. If you were identified, you could be reprimanded or fired.

In this case, there would also be HIPPA concerns.

Not to mention HIPAA concerns. :smiley:

The “the surgeons, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because they were not permitted to speak publicly” are not speaking on behalf of the hospital. If they gave their names and affiliation with the hospital it could be taken as they were a spokesperson for the hospital. The hospital does have spokespeople who are paid and follow specific procedures on what may be said and when, usually vetted by lawyers.

In short, since the lawyers can’t control what the doctors say, the doctors can’t identify themselves with the hospital. Of course, being doctors has nothing to do with it; the same restrictions would apply to the janitors as well (although only the most unreliable news organizations are going to elicit information from janitors).

I’ve worked for a major corporation which had anyone who spoke on their behalf go thru ‘press training’, part of which was how to deflect/defer/ignore any question you don’t want to answer like those that are off the topic of what you’re there to discuss or want more details than you want/allowed to disclose. For examples of this, just watch any politician.

If you’re saying your affiliated with the company, then it sounds like you’re speaking on their behalf. If you haven’t done it before, it’s real easy to make your opinion sound like the company’s &/or accidentally give out information that you shouldn’t.

In my world (events - races, parades, festivals, etc.) that can even include what you’re wearing. If you’re wearing last year’s event shirt, with a rival then-sponsor’s logo on it it’s not good if the current sponsor sees that.

The federal agency that I work for does not permit me to speak to the press about agency business (absent some special permission, I suppose). There might be employment consequences if I violate this rule.

Same for me, except I worked for a state agency. We were told that if the press asked us any questions related to work, we were supposed to refer them to the departmental spokesman and make no further comment. It was never an issue with me because I was never asked any questions by the press.

Maybe in your world. In my world, “affiliated” means that you DON’T work for the company, and therefore cannot speak for it; rather, your connection is something less–maybe you’re a vendor, or contractor, or something like that.

I’ve always felt that affiliated meant there was an ownership connection. Associated means that the connection is non-ownership like a vendor or contractor.

I am not allowed to talk about my current job on any social media because I am not vetted to present the company’s viewpoints accurately. “Accurately” meaning “how the corporate attorneys and management want the company to sound.”

I think you just proved my point.

I’ve been the person who trained the spokespeople, and before that I was the reporter who tried to get information from the spokespeople. Here are the basics.

"Affiliated," “associated,” etc. You can debate about the exact meaning of those words, but to the public they all sound like that person has an official relationship with the organization, i.e., they’re "official."

Different people get different information at different times. You may have a surgeon say there are two people “in surgery” while the ER doctors know there are four more waiting for an operating room to open up, so they will say six people “have gone to surgery,” while the ambulance dispatcher knows there are four more red blankets on the way who will need surgery. So you can have credible reports of anywhere from two to 10 people being wounded “seriously enough to need surgery” at exactly the same moment.

It’s been standard practice since long before I became a reporter not to reveal the names of the dead or injured before the next of kin have been notified. It’s up to the police to notify the victim’s family, or to tell reporters they can’t find a family member.

If you’re a publicly traded company, there are rules about announcing anything that can have a material impact on stock prices. If you’re a privately held company, it’s no one’s business unless the owner decides it is.

I have loads of anecdotes about this, but two will suffice. Once we were training the directors of an organization and they got into a disagreement about policy. We stopped everything and said, “it isn’t our job to tell you what your policy is, and until you decide what you want to say, you shouldn’t be talking to anyone about it anyway.”

I was director of communications at a non-profit organization. The official hierarchy for talking to the media was 1) the executive director 2) the policy director 3) the development director. Notice that even I wasn’t on the list to talk to media, even though I was writing the statements to reporters.

No, I proved the opposite of your point. If I don’t work for a company, it is manifestly impossible for me to speak for them.

Speaking as someone in the media, when someone in the OP-described situation is quoted anonymously it’s usually because their employer has told them “You’re not allowed to comment on this publically, to avoid mixed messages or making it sound like we have views people won’t like”.

Think of it as the corporate/government equivalent of “You didn’t hear this from me, but…”

No, your point was about what “affiliated” means, and you were wrong. When someone says they have no affiliation with a particular company, they don’t mean they work there. That would be an affiliation.

I had a friend that was associated with a big government announcement.

There was an agreement about how the announcement would be made.
I can’t remember which order it went in, but there was a specific order to the announcements.

The federal politician announced it to the National media.
The state politician announced it to the state media.
The local politician announced it to the local media.

The people doing the actual negotiations didn’t announce anything to anybody. Not that it would have made any difference to the outcome, but it would have seriously ruffled some important people with long memories.
PS, I’ve also been told, when you read “sources inside the Pentagon…” , the “sources inside the Pentagon” is a specific person with the job of being “sources inside the Pentagon” in the Pentagon office dealing with the media.

It might be different in the US but that’s not how it works here, basically because as soon as you tell the national media you’ve told everyone, so IME they’d just have one press conference with all three levels of government represented and that way the appropriate media can ask whoever they want for comment/soundbites.

Possibly but not necessarily. Any decent journalist is going to build up contacts across their rounds who are in a position to Tell Them Things. So “Sources inside [Government Department]” could be anyone from an official spokesman speaking off the record (nudge nudge, wink wink), one of the secretaries with whom the reporter has regular coffees, or even the Minister/Department head themselves.

Or, as stated on Yes,Minister: “The ship of state is the only ship which leaks from the top.” :slight_smile:

Doctors aren’t supposed to hold press conferences about their patients, unless the client authorizes it. The patient’s health information is confidential. So when you see a doctor on TV talking about a politician’s colonoscopy it’s because the patient asked them to.

So this anonymous doctor who talked about the patient isn’t just violating their employer’s policy, they’re actually breaking the law:

I’ve worked at plenty of companies where if you talked to the media about the company you could be fired, unless it was your job to talk to the media. Sadly, nobody in the media ever contacted me and asked me to leak confidential information, and so my ethical fiber is sadly unchallenged.

Of course it’s also the case that sometimes leaked information is leaked with approval. Happens all the time in government, and sometimes in businesses trying to build hype for a mysterious product. But most times, you’re not supposed to leak information, and it can cost you your job if you do. And that goes quadruple for people who have a legal requirement to preserve their client’s privileged information.

Not exactly

“Release of Patient’s General Condition and Location
As long as the patient has not requested that information be withheld, you may release the patient’s one-word
condition and location to individuals who inquire about the patient by name or to clergy, without obtaining prior patient
The following terms are recommended by the American Hospital Association’s Society for Healthcare Strategy & Market
Development (SHSMD):
• Undetermined – Patient awaiting physician assessment.
• Good – Vital signs are stable and within normal limits. Patient is conscious and comfortable. Indicators are excellent.
• Fair – Vital signs are stable and within normal limits. Patient is conscious, but may be uncomfortable. Indicators are
• Serious – Vital signs may be unstable and not within normal limits. Patient is acutely ill. Indicators are questionable.
• Critical – Vital signs are unstable and not within normal limits. Patient may be unconscious. Indicators are
• Treated and Released – Patient received treatment but was not admitted.
• Treated and Transferred – Received treatment. Transferred to a different facility. (Although a hospital may disclose
that a patient was treated and released, it may not release information regarding the date of release or where the
patient went upon release without patient authorization.)
Clinicians find the “critical but stable” term useful when discussing cases amongst themselves because it helps them
differentiate patients who are expected to recover from those whose prognosis is worse. But a critical condition means
that at least some vital signs are unstable, so this is inherently contradictory. The term “stable” should not be used as a
condition. Furthermore, this term should not be used in combination with other conditions, which by definition, often
indicate a patient is unstable.”