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Germanwings Crash Provokes Debate on Personal Privacy vs. Public Safety

The recent crash of Germanwings Flight 9525 has prompted widespread debate on whether the medical records of airplane pilots should be disclosed to their employers, or even to the public


Post Falls, ID -- (SBWIRE) -- 04/14/2015 -- The recent crash of Germanwings Flight 9525 has prompted widespread debate on whether the medical records of airplane pilots should be disclosed to their employers, or even to the public.

Andreas Lubitz, who intentionally brought a plane full of 150 passengers into a deadly descent into the French Alps on March 24th, had been diagnosed by doctors to be unfit for work. Because of confidentiality laws, however, the airline that employed Lubitz did not have access to his medical records.

The tragedy is likely to add fuel to the ongoing debate on how to balance personal rights with public safety.

In a provocative post titled "Did Medical Confidentiality Cause The Germanwings Crash?", the psychologist Dr. Graham Taylor commented that "If there had been more transparency with medical records, the public could have known that Mr Lubitz was unfit to fly. As things currently stand, not even the airline company that employed Lubitz had access to his medical records."

Dr. Taylor, who runs an online education platform to train psychology students to pass the EPPP licensure exam, went on to explain that aviation companies in the United States face similar challenges to their European partners regarding access to information about their pilots. "The United States system is hampered by similar limitations, relying mainly on airplane pilot's self-reporting…. Currently, medical records in the United States are regulated by laws that stringently protect an individual's right to confidentiality. There is thus a great deal of uncertainty among health professionals about what they are allowed to disclose if their patient happens to be a pilot who is unfit to fly."

But Dr. Taylor also pointed out that there could be drawbacks to making medical records more transparent. "Handing over a pilot's medical records to the tribunal of popular opinion might fuel a sense of hysteria in which those who are depressed and mentally ill may begin to be stigmatized as being dangerous."

Instead of making medical records public, an alternative might be for airline companies to more actively involve psychologists to regularly monitor the mental health of their pilots.

"Many airline companies do not routinely evaluate the psychological health of their pilots" Dr. Taylor explained. "It is unclear how the current system, which relies heavily on the self-reporting of pilots, would be able to screen out mentally unstable persons determined to lie about their condition. Although there is a rigorous battery of neuropsychological tests for reintegrating pilots into work following sick-leave for depression, the routine evaluation of active pilots focuses more on physical health rather than psychological and mental health…. It may be time for psychologists to play a more active role in partnering with the aviation industry to keep our airways safe."

About The Taylor Study Method
The Taylor Study Method is a cohesive team of recognized psychologists, talented writers and technical experts who work tirelessly to provide psychology students with the most relevant and complete resources to pass their EPPP exam.

TSM's team of professionals have been refining their EPPP preparation materials for over 17 years, using technologically advanced learning modalities that integrate multiple research-based methods of learning and memory. As a result, TSM is able to deliver the most current and up to date EPPP training that equip students to pass their psychology licensure exam.


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