Dialogue Volume 13 Issue 2 2017 - Page 43

section Tk practice partner Keeping it Confidential on the World’s Biggest Elevator Patient privacy is paramount when doctors take to social media DOC TALK By Stuart Foxman Y ou’re on an elevator talking to a colleague about a patient. The doors open and a few people enter. How careful are you to respect the patient’s privacy? What if this el- evator holds not just a handful of people but hundreds, thousands, or tens of thousands? Social media is the world’s biggest elevator. Everyone can hear what you’re saying. Some medical professionals have learned that the hard way. In Rhode Island, an emergency room doc- tor lost her job, and was reprimanded by her regulator, after posting information about a patient on Facebook. She didn’t mention the patient’s name, but provided enough infor- mation so that others could recognize the individual. Also on Facebook, a Missouri obstetrician criticized a patient who was always late for her prenatal visits, revealed that the patient previously had a stillbirth and (in retaliation for the patient’s tardiness) joked about show- ing up late to do the delivery. Doctors who use online forums to discuss cases with other practitioners may think they are protecting confidentiality, but removing patients’ names is jus BBVVvखR7F6Rf6F"F7FFVvB7FVB7GW&Rb6V`vFF7F'2FR6Bv6vVBW@F2sGvGFW"fvW'2&&BFR&6w&VBv2f6&RBƗ7FVBFV@W2FRGvVWFW"v6( BF7F"'WBW"ЦVגVB( 2FR6VG'( 2VF6V7&WF'vF66VFFRFf&2&P77VR"#rFwVPC