Medical Practitioner Using FB? 3 Ways to Stay Out of Trouble

» Posted by on Apr 20, 2011 in Business Strategy, Doctors, Facebook, Marketing, Medical Practice | 1 comment

By Harry and Miriam

Disclaimer: We aren’t attorneys and we don’t play them on YouTube.  Check with your legal team if in any doubt.

The Boston Globe printed this article, which prompted us to think about the ways that smart and savvy professional people manage to get themselves into trouble using social media.  Inappropriate use can get you fired, as it did in this case – and hospitals and medical practices are quickly developing monitoring programs to make sure that unwise comment doesn’t go unnoticed.

Here are three important things to consider:

1)  HIPAA, HIPAA, HIPAA.  You’ve signed the papers (repeatedly) now read the regs.  Realize that even if you don’t use a name, HIPAA refers to any information that could be used to identify a patient – even if it seems unlikely.  (When Miriam worked at a hospital she was shocked to learn that HIPAA extended to shredding the hospital menus! )  The physician in the article referenced above was fired for describing an unusual case – unusual enough that the individual patient could be identified even without use of a name.  Nurses have been fired for posting pictures of “cute” patients – a patient is a patient, not a friend.

2)  If you are offering a comment, clearly state who is speaking.  Is it you, the individual, who is a mom and friend and PTO member (and happens to be a doctor too?)  Or is it your practice or hospital speaking?  If speaking as yourself, make that very clear upfront – especially if you are discussing  a topic that garners a lot of differing opinions.

3)  Get educated about privacy settings – and use them.  The old rule of thumb about assuming your email will be seen on a billboard – and that both your grandmother and your boss may see it – is a good one.  The privacy settings on Facebook are complicated – it’s a good idea to put your contacts into groups and then test out results of innocuous posts on a friend or family member’s computer, so that you fully understand what can and can’t be seen.  Realize that defaults are generally open access to everyone, and plan accordingly.

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1 Comment

  1. Hello! Just want to say thank you for this interesting article! =) Peace, Joy.

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