Energy. Environment. Economy.

Lawmaker Proposes to Clarify Doctor “Gag Rule”

Susan Phillips / StateImpact Pennsylvania

Dr. Amy Pare, a Washington County plastic surgeon, says she worries the requirement for healthcare providers to sign non-disclosure agreements will harm patient care.

State Rep. Greg Vitali, (D-Delaware County), says he’ll be introducing a bill to amend Act 13 public health provisions. One of the most controversial provisions of the state’s new drilling law requires doctors to sign non-disclosure forms in order to get information on chemical exposures to treat patients. The language of the law is vague, and has created confusion and fear among doctors and other health professionals.

Dr. Amy Pare, a plastic and reconstructive surgeon from Washington County, has spoken out against the provision.

“As I understand it,” Pare told StateImpact, “it’s legally binding, so if 20 years from now I hiccup that someone was exposed to zippity doo dah, I’m legally liable for that.”

Pare says it could also have larger implications regarding public health data.

Vitali says his bill would allow health workers to share that “trade secret” information with other health professionals and regulatory agencies for healthcare purposes.

Vitali circulated a memo about the proposal to other House members on Wednesday, seeking co-sponsorship.

The bill would also require the Department of Health to “collect, analyze and disseminate health data” related to shale drilling operations. It also requires the Department to conduct an epidemiological study on the health impacts of shale drilling. And it would expand the state’s chemical disclosure requirements to include chemicals unintentionally added, as well as hazardous substances created by the interaction of fracking chemicals.


  • Patrick Henderson

    The language of the law is not vague, and anyone who has followed this issue knows that. When looking to examine how an issue can be ‘manufactured’, the press coverage of the so-called ‘gag rule’ should be exhibit A in future text books. The reality is that the hydraulic disclosure law in Pennsylvania was modeled after language approved by the Colorado legislature, under the leadership of a stakeholder process initiated by their Democratic Administration. It guarantees – for the first time in PA law – that health care professionals such as Dr. Pare are legally entitled to confidential and proprietary information which is needed to assist in the care of a patient.
    Rep. Vitali can rest assured that, thanks to Governor Corbett and members of the General Assembly who voted for Act 13 of 2012, Pennsylvanians are benefitting from the most advanced hydraulic fracturing disclosure law in the nation, one which prioritizes the health needs of Pennsylvanians above all else. It is time to celebrate this accomplishment, not continue to mislead the public.
    Patrick Henderson, Energy Executive
    Office of Governor Tom Corbett

    • MonroePA

      That is hilarious. The doctor can not tell people who are being poisoned by toxic chemicals what those chemicals are. If fracking is so safe, why does it have to be exempted from the Clean Air and Clean Water acts? Why are doctors threatened with criminal charges if they tell people what they are being poisoned with? Because this is all about money and to hell with the protection of the environment and the citizens of Pennsylvania. How about getting the DEP to actually tell people what is in their water? It is apparently too much to expect honesty from this administration.

      • GilbertDavis

        amen . The natural has frackers and their bought politicians should be arrested and thrown into prison !!!

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