First physicians had to hang signs to remind patients not to talk or text on their cellphones so they would not disturb others. Now that cellphone capabilities have expanded, physicians have a choice: Do they extend that warning to taking pictures with a smartphone?
Though the ban on telephone conversations was motivated by an attempt to keep down the annoyance factor, the implications of snapping pictures inside a practice can go beyond other patients getting a little irritated. If picture-taking is left unfettered, patients could feel violated and sense that a practice doesn’t take patient privacy seriously. On the other hand, if patients want to break out the smartphone for a few shots, is a practice just picking a fight by instituting a no-pictures policy?
How a practice is held accountable when one patient violates another patient’s privacy can be tricky because, technically, patients cannot violate the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act. Ultimately, practices are duty-bound to do all they can to create an environment that respects patients and their privacy, experts say. If a patient’s waiting-room picture that gets posted on Facebook happens to include other patients, HIPAA violation or not, those patients might not be too happy.
Read the entire article at ama-assn-org.