After questioning the validity of a medical certificate justifying the absence of Democratic Coalition (DK) council member Henrik Radnóti from a Dunakeszi council meeting in July, Dunakeszi mayor Csaba Dióssi (Fidesz) requested sensitive personal information about Radnóti from his doctor, Index.hu reports.
Dióssi asked Radnóti’s doctor in a letter to “comment on, insofar as Mr. Representative [Radnóti] was under your treatment on July 27, 2017, whether it could be established without any doubt that his medical condition prevented him from participating in the council meeting which lasted from between 3 pm and 3:25 pm.”
In an obvious violation of medical privacy, the GP disclosed Radnóti’s condition to mayor Dióssi and confirmed that although at the time in question Radnóti was under treatment, he did not have an appointment on that day. Although it is not known when the physician disclosed Radnóti’s condition to the mayor, Dióssi said at a September 28 council meeting that he did not accept the certificate and recommended withdrawing Radnóti’s honorarium for the day of his absence. The proposal was passed by the Fidesz majority of the Dunakeszi council and the council decided to forward the incident to investigative authorities.
When index.hu contacted the council to find out on what basis it requested people’s private medical information, and whether they inspect the medical information of Fidesz members of the council, the council declined to answer. However, in a written statement they stressed that they had reason to believe that the DK representative was not lying in bed at the time of the council meeting but enjoying himself at a recreational program, and that he would do anything to cheat money from the council.
The government’s flagship propaganda site Origo published an article on Saturday in which it published three photos posted to Facebook of Radnóti on a bike tour with his child on the day in question. The photos have since been removed from Radnóti’s profile.
Index.hu attempted to contact Radnóti but the DK politician refused to comment. However, Pest county council member Sándor Rónai (DK) told index.hu that Radnóti has a congenital locomotive disorder. Despite his condition, Rónai said, Radnóti regularly sports and cycles. Rónai added that “one should know that in one minute he cycles at 60 kilometers per hour and in the next minute he cannot lift his arm.”
According to Rónai, Radnóti was not in town on the day of the council meeting and his arm was so numb that he would not risk driving his car. Rónai insisted that had Radnóti been in better condition, he would have attended the meeting. Reacting to the withdrawal of Radnóti’s honorarium, Rónai said:
“That boy earns HUF 35,000 (USD 130) at the council, while the mayor earns HUF 1 million (HUF 3,770), and on top of that he and the vice-mayor have picked up premiums worth more than HUF 10 million (USD 37,700) in the last half year. Then they amuse themselves by mocking the medical condition of my fellow representative whose congenital locomotive disorder is obvious after a handshake. This is too much.”
Rónai told index.hu that he thinks there is an ongoing political showdown against Radnóti, noting that earlier this year Rónai, Radnóti and two other representatives filed a report after it was revealed that a three-hectare flood-basin forest that was purchased by the council for HUF 250 million (USD 942,500) was worth HUF 2 million (USD 7,500) at best.
President of National Alliance of Primary Care Doctors (FAKOOSZ) Kamill Selmeczi told Magyar Nemzet that employers have a right to ask a physician whether their patient appeared at an appointment or received sick pay. However, it is strictly forbidden for doctors to disclose the nature of the condition of their patients, let alone the exact diagnosis. According to Selmeczi, it is suspicious that the council made so much out of the one-time absence of a representative.
According to the chair of the Hungarian Medical Chamber István Éger, the physician could face ethical proceedings for his disclosures, or even a civil lawsuit. Éger stressed that regardless of the specifics of a case, both data protection and privacy rights apply to medical secrecy.