AUTOPSY RECORDS REMAIN PRIVATE
By Liz Gunn ||Nearly two weeks ago at Clemson University, 18 year old college freshman Virginia Gilliam from Charleston, S.C. died suddenly on a Sunday morning after being hospitalized just the night before. Friends say she died of a septic Urinary Tract Infection, although the family declined to comment.
When the story first broke, people were outraged that the family would not confirm or deny the cause of death. Some felt that the public had a right to know, others felt people were seeking the cause of death out of nothing more than morbid curiosity – and that the media should respect the family’s wishes.
Just a few months ago the South Carolina Supreme Court ruled that autopsy results are medical records and therefore exempt from the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA). I’ll be honest – I’m not sure how I feel about it. I cannot fathom any greater loss than the loss of a child.I can certainly understand that the family may not want to be bothered with the media at a time like this.
On the other hand, urinary tract infections run rampant in girls her age. This would be a great opportunity to educate young women on the dangers of not seeking treatment for them or any infection for that matter. Dying from a UTI (or more accurately, “urosepsis”) is very rare. Once sepsis develops however, the chance of survival drops considerably – by about 33 percent. This is definitely something the public needs to be aware of.
It’s possible the family decided to keep quiet because UTIs are often associated with being sexually active. Contrary to popular belief, that is not the only way to contract a UTI. Young children and the elderly are actually just as susceptible as women who are sexually active, for different reasons.
What better way to honor this young woman than to use her passing as a platform to educate others – so that no other parent has to suffer the same, unnecessary loss.
Whether autopsy reports should be made public will be debated next year by South Carolina lawmakers. Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Larry Martin thinks a compromise can be reached, especially in cases where knowing the cause of death would benefit the public. Jay Bender takes it one step further, claiming that the deceased have no right to privacy.
It will be interesting to see this one unfold, as the ruling from the high court was a 4-1 decision.
Liz Gunn is a wife, mom, author, businesswoman, travel enthusiast, food snob, fashionista, lover of great wine and the No. 1 Gamecock football fan … ever. A graduate of the University of South Carolina, she lives in Columbia, S.C. with her husband and daughter.
If you’re dead why do you have a “right to privacy” as far as medical records are concerned?
What entitles us to someone’s medical records the second they are no longer among the living?
Any time someone drops dead unusually, particularly from an illness, disease or controllable condition I’d say the public good trumps the dead persons “privacy”.
Yeah, but for those of us not close to the victim, it fulfills the need for our daily chuckle.
Well there is that…
It has already been released that this is not a public health concern.
You may think you need to know how all the details of how she died, but you merely want to know to satisfy your morbid curiosity.
Col, I’m surprised to see you take this position.
It’s a sad situation.
See my note above. I advocate releasing the cause of death, period. Salacious details are fine for the tabloids but competent authority releasing factual information will shut down discussions like we’re having faster than anything else. A simple statement “Ms. Brown died of urosepsis at 1200 pm in county hospital” is what they need to say, entertain no questions not directly related to that disease and then walk away.
The reason that I think cause of death is important to you and I is that if we hear it 3-4 Times we can figure out on our own that we may have a problem. The reason I advocate releasing cause of death from the family’s perspective is that it will immediately shut up all of the polite folks. You can’t do anything to shut up the asshats.
Your simple statement is exactly what was told to the media, and told by the media, at least in Charleston.
I’m not sure what is left, or needs to be said.
Put it this way, as a mother, when you’re daughter turns 18 and suddenly dies, do you want her autopsy results plastered across everyone’s screens? Do you want her death discussed on FitsNews?
If I thought it would save another mother from the same grief -yes.
So a UTI is now a life threatening disease?
FitsNews has fallen a lot since bringing all these women on to discuss women’s issues. If I wanted to hear about fashion, women’s feelings about football, or UTI’s I’d read fucking Cosmo.
SUMAT = Shut Up, Men Are Talking
Will, get these women off your blog and get back to what your blog was a year or two ago.
“SUMAT = Shut Up, Men Are Talking”
MAATWTSBL = Men are always talking when they should be listening.
GAFC = I’ll let you figure that one out.
Guys Are Fucking Cute? I can see that from a horny female perspective.
The last two make no sense and nobody uses them, SUMAT is widely used in the military.
“Guys Are Fucking Cute?”
Hey – whatever floats your boat – you certainly seem to have a thang for Mark Sanford and you obviously hate females. Take a hike and maybe you’ll get lucky with, Marky.
GAFC = Get a Fucking Clue.
Hey you asked me to guess, and coming from you I figured it was some cute little line you use on Match.com.
GLTDOOJ = Go Lick The Dust Out Of Jenny
Hey dumbfuck all you have to do is not click on the Liz tab and you won’t have to read anything Liz publishes.. Fukn dumbass whiners, the worst.. Keep it up Liz I enjoy the blog . These idiots would argue with you even if you posted a story about how great they are at screwing their girlfriends and told them they were hung like a horse..
Doubtful. You won’t be worrying about anyone else.
The surest way to shut down the gossip is to publish the truth.
Well, she a 108 degree fever and probably suffered brain damage before passing away. Is that what you wanted to know?
No, “Miss Brown died of urosepsis at 12:00 pm at county hospital” period, full stop. If a question is asked about how the disease is contracted, a factual medically accurate answer is provided. If a question is asked like “did Ms Brown get it from having sex?” Gets nothing more than “that kind of information is not within the scope of this report, next question” (muttered under breath, “asshat”).
So what,exactly, were you saying should be publicized?
Just exactly what I said, when the press gets curious, schedule an announcement (say 0650 on a Friday). Announce the cause of death, address any valid questions then step off the podium. I teach at USC but have heard the rumors about this. Didn’t know any of the facts but now that I do, I’m more convinced that announcing the official “cause of death” will shut much of the scurrilous banter down. Truth always wins.
I think we are going in circles here.
I know what you do and where; you have said so before. I have also stated where I live before, so it’s possible I may have some insight into this.
What you heard on the news is pretty much all that needs to be said. There’s nothing else to say; it’s a sad story with no ulterior motive other than a grieving family trying to hold things together during what you can understand is a very difficult time.
This is the first story I’ve seen on this, I didn’t have enough facts to figure out what really happened up to this point. I’m sure you know more about this case than I do, had the facts been made public up in Clemson, I’d have probably never heard any of this because there’d be nothing to talk about. The loss of a child is horrible regardless of the circumstances but there are lessons to be learned in some cases and rumors to be quelled in others – sometimes there’s just nothing but sorrow no matter what you do.
help all of us !!!!
Look at her Facebook page. It’s wide open. It tells her story pretty well IMO.
Again, lacked the facts – my general point is that cause of death should be public info, the dead can’t be embarrassed and the living are better served with the truth.
Substitute Gilliam for Brown. I was just trying to make a non-specific example
You shouldn’t have to explain the use of the name Brown.
Yeesh, this one didn’t get formatted properly.
The public only needs to know if there is a danger posed to the public, otherwise it is entirely up to the family as to who has the right to know. Let charities worry about public service announcements regarding UTIs.
Ignorance is always a danger to the public – people not realizing that you can die from something as simple as an untreated UTI is a danger to the public.
And, you have the medical expertise to do more than pass around old wives’ tales?
what old wives tale would that be?
I can die from a fucking papercut, I don’t think the world needs to read about it.
I can die from a fucking papercut, I don’t think the world needs to read about it.
It really is just another community of 20,000 + people, mostly adults. Just because it is a university doesn’t mean different rules should apply. It’s not like Ebola has broken out.
If you want a story about students being sick brush up on the drinking water problem in and around Clemson. The restaurants are even refusing to serve water at this point unless it is boiled and many students are becoming quite ill from simply brushing their teeth. That story is not making any headway because it is quite embarrassing.
You idiot!!! I’ve been to Clemson just this past weekend and my son is a senior there and nothing like this going on! Stop making crap up!
I have kids there too and yes it is! Thanks for losing it there though, didn’t realize that actual facts could get a grown adult so bent.
What a “Voice of Reason”.
This young lady who wrote this reads a lot into something that she can only speculate on. Fits, you need better help.
“It’s possible the family decided to keep quiet because UTIs are often associated with being sexually active.”
That sentence served no purpose in the article other than that of prurient titillation, a FITS mainstay.
Gunn and Folks deserve each other.
UTIs also happen when you don’t drink enough water, or get dehydrated. Leave the family alone. It’s noneya!
“Contrary to popular belief, that is not the only way to contract a UTI.”
And someone to format her articles. Will, what does she have on you?
oooooh she made an html mistake – obviously she has something on him. you people should get out more.
This is one of Liz’s more thought-provoking articles and she brings out some good points.
As a member of the public, I occasionally see news of someone’s passing that leaves big question marks floating around the article. Those kind of articles remind me of the tag line for the old TV game show, “You Don’t Say”. Their tag line was, “It’s not what you say that counts, it’s what you don’t say”.
Conversely, I don’t think I would want it in the media that my grandfather, father, son, uncle, brother, or whoever, was found with a rope around his neck while wearing a bra, lacy panties, and a tourniquet around his balls, when he died, along with a large collection of gay porn spread out on the floor. Getting back to the first point, you do occasionally read stories of someone’s passing with so little information that you can’t help but wonder if such may have been the case in that instance.
thank you – I’m glad you found it thought provoking. I’m not sure that details you mentioned would be included in the cause of death – and if so, certainly should be kept private. I do believe that. “Suicide by asphyxiation” would suffice.
I have fixed the formatting. Everyone calm down.
About 40 or 50 years ago there was a major outbreak of this type disease. Many young women died from it. The source was a type of Tampax used in those days. I wonder if there could be a correlation with this death. If so, a public warning needs to be sent out and a product investigation begun. Stuff coming from China may be bringing back the old days of death again.
That was toxic shock syndrome but you clearly illustrate why “cause of death” should be made public. Proctor and Gamble’s “Rely” brand tampon was the culprit. The tampon was “to efficient” effectively sealing the vagina creating a breeding ground for two types of bacterial toxins.
In 50 years, you can get a copy of her death certificate with a COD on it. You don’t need an autopsy report. That’s disgusting. She has a right to privacy. If you want to be an advocate, go be one. Don’t force it on her memory. Advocacy is a calling, not an obligation.
The Gilliam and Platts families are great people all the way around. Virginia was an outstanding student and person. Upper 5% at a minimum. The family published all that was relevant and Clemson sent out emails and posted on their website that Clemson had investigated and the situation did not warrant any cause for concern to other students and parents. That’s enough.
Did you ask the family to comment and they denied? Or, did you write this article based on what you read in the media? Do you even know if an autopsy was done? There is no shame in what happened to this girl. Her family has no reason to hide anything. She did nothing wrong. She simply died from urosepsis. It was a horrible, tragic, unbelievable death. They family didn’t refuse to comment to the media, the family is mourning the loss of their 18 year old middle daughter. Enough said!
No I didn’t ask the family. And like I stated in the post, I completely understand why they wouldn’t want to be bothered with details or media requests at a time like this. It’s an unbearable tragedy, and I am so sorry for the family. In no way, at any time did I blame them. I am a compassionate mom too, and I am sorry if this post was misinterpreted. Since writing this, more details were released and this entire post is now irrelevant.
When you go thru something like this with your own child, come talk to me. You need to but out of this, unless there was a danger to the public, what this family does with the autopsy should be private so nosy people like you cannot view someone’s private medical records. This family is just trying to keep it together emotionally without you dragging them thru the dirt. They are having a hard enough time just coping much less thinking about how they can create a publicity campaign for UTI’s.