October 25, 2012

First Do No Harm

Though it isn't actually found in the Hippocratic Oath, many people commonly associate the phrase, 'First do no harm', with the medical profession.  More accurately, Hippocrates wrote, in Epidemics the phrase:
'The physician must be able to tell the antecedents, know the present, and foretell the future - must mediate these things, and have two special objects in view with regard to disease, namely, to do good or to do no harm.'
Somewhere along the way it got hijacked, changed a bit, and often (mis)quoted.  It's a good thought, unto itself and I would think that many medical ethics issues are governed by that tenet.

I wish the government worked the same way.

I read this headline with interest, as Barnes & Noble has the market cornered on campus bookstores, which greatly affects me and my often used credit card:

Barnes & Noble: Bugs Planted In Credit Card Readers At 63 Stores Nationwide

Nation's Largest Bookseller Implores Customers To Check Their Statements

Oh my goodness, I thought, mentally preparing myself to check my statement, and have Boom do the same, as I read onward through the article (luckily it was in Yankee land, not Texas).  It was this part of the story that set my blood boiling:
The FBI asked Barnes & Noble not to disclose the breach last month, for fear of compromising the investigation, WCBS 880′s Marla Diamond reported.
Last month, meaning at least 25 days before the story broke.  The PIN pads were disconnected when the breach was discovered on September 14th.  So fraudulent charges would have been prior to that date.  What's your bank's policy on how long you have to report a fraudulent charge and expect to get your money back?  If people were noticing the charges on their own, what were they being told if the FBI had dictated that the breach not be disclosed?

I know plenty of people that a fraudulent charge of any significant amount could really screw up their lives.  When people are on a tight budget and stretching money out paycheck to paycheck, one hit to the bank account snowballs as other payments get returned NSF, and both banks start to add on the fees.

I get that sometimes law enforcement needs to give people enough rope to hang themselves, but should it be to the detriment of innocent citizens? Shouldn't they strive to first do no harm?

No comments: