More Cruise Line PR Games: Royal Caribbean Releases Private Medical Information About Dead Passenger
This weekend we reported on a lawsuit which had been filed against Royal Caribbean over the death of a 56 year old passenger, Barbara Davey (photo below left). The deceased passenger's husband, John Davey, stated to the Scottish and U.K. media that "Barbara was tossed around like a ragdoll and was seriously hurt" during the violent storm which rocked the Brilliance of the Seas as the cruise ship approached Alexandria Egypt. Three days later Ms. Davey lapsed into a coma and subsequently died. Doctors apparently diagnosed a "brain hemorrhage" as the cause of death.
This morning USA Today's CruiseLog picked up on the story in an article "Passenger on Storm-Tossed Cruise Says Event Led to Wife's Death."
Royal Caribbean responded to the USA Today article with a rather remarkable spin:
"Royal Caribbean is disputing the notion that the stormy weather encountered by Brilliance of the Seas had a role in Davey's death, telling USA TODAY that her illness was the result of a pre-existing medical condition. Royal Caribbean spokeswoman Michelle Nadeem says the ship's doctor was called to Davey's cabin on the second day the vessel was in Malta, three days after the ship hit rough seas, and the doctor quickly determined she had an acute medical emergency and called an ambulance.
'She was taken to the hospital where she remained in critical condition,' Nadeem says, adding that Davey never lost consciousness while on the ship. "The Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. Medical Department has determined that Mrs. Davey's acute medical emergency was caused by a preexisting medical condition unrelated to the listing of the ship.' "
I have seen some pretty nasty cruise line PR statements over the years, but this one takes the cake.
Medical information divulged by a patient to a doctor is strictly confidential in most civilized countries. In the U.S., patients have privacy rights under the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act ("HIPAA") which prohibits medical providers (including cruise doctors) from releasing any information about patients to anyone (including newspaper reporters to say the least!) unless there has been HIPAA-compliant medical releases executed.
But this is the anything-goes world of cruising where privacy rights be damned. And this is Royal Caribbean which has the worst cruise reputation in the world. Only the "Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. Medical Department" could justify disclosing to the world that Ms. Davey not only had a "pre-existing" medical condition but definitively state that the alleged "pre-existing" condition killed her.
The USA Today article quotes Royal Caribbean spokesperson Michelle Nadeem (photo above right) as the source of the leaked medical information. The cruise line's PR release when it hired Ms. Nadeem indicates that she is experienced in crisis management, reputation management, social responsibility, and healthcare issues. She reports directly to the cruise line's CEO, Richard Fain.
Now that the death of Ms. Davey has reached the national media, Royal Caribbean wants to set the record straight - it's Ms. Davey's fault that she is dead, not the violent rocking of the Royal Caribbean cruise ship which threw her around her cabin like a rag doll. And the cruise line was prepared to reveal the confidential medical history of a dead woman to prove its point.
January 31, 2011 Update: Ms. Nadeem again released Ms. Davey's medical history and information from her medical records to the popular on line cruise community, Cruise Critic.
For additional information about Royal Caribbean's unique style of manging its reputation, consider reading: The Cruise Industry's Reputation - A Sinking Image
Top The Courier UK
Bottom Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd.