Mishmeres HaSholom: Ask the Rav

Q: Is it permissible for me to tell others that I was the subject of a medical mistake in a specific hospital? My intention isn’t only to share this information with people who inquire about the place; I also want to tell my friends what I suffered because of this mistake. Additionally, I want to make others aware of what happened, so that they know to avoid this hospital in the future.

 A: Before we address the specifics of your question, let us remember that people are not angels and that humans make mistakes.

As for the question at hand, if the hospital is liable for recurring mistakes, there may be a heter to tell others about it, when the information is relevant to the listener for constructive purposes and it is told in accordance with the conditions delineated by the Chofetz Chaim in Hilchos Lashon Hara L’toeles.

If what you experienced was a rare mistake (and as we all do, hospitals sometimes err), it seems that it would be preferable to be stringent and not tell others, as there is no toeles therein. The explanation for this is as follows. Halachically it would be permissible to tell others about the mistake in accordance with the following conditions:

  1. Not to mention the doctor’s name, and even to avoid insinuating who it could have been, so that the listener wouldn’t be able to deduce who the doctor was.
  2. Not to depict the facts in a way that would point at the hospital’s negligence, but rather as a simple mistake that could happen to anyone.
  3. To say it in a way that it would be clear that the error notwithstanding, there’d be no reason to opt for an alternate hospital.

Since, however, it is difficult to adhere to the above conditions, it is preferable to refrain from telling others, as long as there’s no definite purpose.


 

The following questions and answers were taken from the Mishmeres Hasholom pamphlet in Israel. For details and inquiries please e-mail us at office@hasholom.org or call 972-2 5379160.

The opinions expressed in this article are those of the individual author and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Hamodia.