Friendly reminder to Physicians to be careful using Social Media sites

Most of us like to peruse Facebook and see what are friends and family are up to that day. Unfortunately, we mostly see a stream of information with little or no value, but hey, that’s our mother-in-law posting that picture of 2 kittens rolling around on the floor with a sock…….so we should look at it, right? Well, we aren’t here to discuss those types of posts, we’re here to let you know that you must be careful when posting anything patient related on the web. These types of actions have the potential to have a lawsuit filed against you and you may even lose your job.

The reason we bring this up today is because of Dr. Amy Dunbar, an OB/GYN at St. Mercy Hospital in Saint Louis, Missouri.  She decided to post the following info on a public Facebook post:

So I have a patient who has chosen to either no-show or be late (sometimes hours) for all of her prenatal visits, ultrasounds, and NST’s. She is now 3 hours late for her induction. May I show up late to her delivery?

A lot of folks are now asking that the hospital take action against Dr. Dunbar because she violated her patient’s privacy. We do not feel that Mercy Hospital should take action against Dr. Dunbar, because the patient’s name wasn’t in the post. But this is a friendly reminder that we are living in a world that is still fairly new to all of us. We sometimes do not realize how much of a reach we really do have now that we are all plugged in to sites like Facebook, Twitter, and Google+.

Always take a moment to make sure you want to publish certain content before hitting the “Post” button because you never know who will end up reading it. We also recommend that you use Lists in Facebook to help shrink who sees your public posts. You should also review your security settings to ensure only the people that you want to see your content are receiving it.  Taking these types of actions won’t help you 100% of the time, but they probably would have helped Dr. Dunbar!

Video of news story:

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