Page last updated at 23:02 GMT, Saturday, 30 January 2010

Row over Puerto Rico medics' Facebook images in Haiti

Screenshot of Facebook
The photos have now been removed from Facebook

Puerto Rico has launched an investigation into a group of its doctors in Haiti who posed for pictures with guns and earthquake victims.

Health Secretary Lorenzo Gonzalez said ethical guidelines prohibited taking pictures of patients or operations other than for medical purposes.

Some photos showed the medics with guns, smiling and drinking during what appeared to be an operation.

The pictures were posted on Facebook, but were later removed from the site.

Other photographs showed a doctor holding a saw next to a victim's leg.

'Unfortunate events'

"My main concern is the transmission of a pictures of a patient not knowing whether there was an attempt for informed consent," Mr Gonzalez was quoted as saying by the Associated Press.

The Puerto Rico Association of Physicians and Surgeons said in a statement that some Puerto Rican doctors "displayed behaviour... that did not meet the highest standards of the medical profession".

"We wish to respectfully ask forgiveness... for the unfortunate events described and widely disseminated, which we are sure added pain and sadness to the enormous suffering," the statement added.

It said that more than 60 doctors had been sent to Haiti to treat the victims of the devastating earthquake on 12 January.

However, the association did not say how many doctors had appeared in the photos.

Puerto Rico is a self-governing commonwealth that belongs to the US.

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