Do You Need a “Twitter” Policy for the OR?

February 17, 2009 at 5:54 pm Leave a comment

We’ve heard the tale from one healthcare system that experienced a sales rep using his mobile phone camera to take unauthorized pictures of a procedure without system or patient consent.   And any number of our healthcare customers have policies in place restricting the use of mobile phones and cameras in patient procedural areas. 

But what about Twitter?   

The micro-blog service lets users post updates of the minutiae of their lives (E.g., “I’m thinking about lunch.”   “Headed down Fifth St.”)  from their mobile phones so that friends can keep up moment by moment.   While none of my friends are so interesting that I need this kind of currency, the service has been booming.   

So when I read on CNN.com that the surgeons at Henry Ford Center in Detroit “twittered” the play by play and outcome of an unnamed patient’s kidney surgery, I was intrigued.    

I’m sure Henry Ford Legal, PR, and medical staff discussed the situation before proceeding.   I’m confident that the patient in question was fully versed and amenable.   But will this become a habit?   A standard operating procedure?  

Is this already covered in HIPAA acknoweldgements?   Or do healthcare providers need to create still another policy?   “I acknowledge and agree that I will not Twitter, Facebook, or otherwise alert my social networks to procedures involving patients at this hospital without express consent of the patient and the hospital staff.”

Entry filed under: Medical Devices, security.

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