Wednesday, April 22, 2015
A Useful Guide To The Use Of Mobile Images In Clinical Circumstances. Think Before You Snap or Share!
This useful document appeared last week:
Monday, 13 April, 2015
ANYONE working in an Australian hospital, health service or clinic will tell you that clinical images are routinely captured and used by doctors and medical students every day, often using personal mobile devices.
But how do you ensure that you are meeting your professional, ethical and legal responsibilities when taking and using these images?
The capture of images of clinical signs, injuries and lesions has been common practice for years for a wide variety of medical practitioners, ranging from GPs to geriatricians and everyone in between.
Clinical images can improve professional referrals, particularly in regional, rural and remote settings where specialist services may be limited, and have long been used for non-clinical purposes such as teaching, training and research.
However, there is concern that many doctors have an inadequate understanding of their significant legal, professional and ethical obligations regarding the use of clinical images.
Pitfalls for doctors are common at almost every step of the process, including obtaining adequate consent and documentation, quality and de-identification, secure storage, transmission and ownership. Few systems exist for integration of clinical images into medical records.
Additional complexities arising from the capture of images on personal mobile devices can also prove difficult for doctors to navigate, including ensuring adequate quality for decision making, appropriately managing device features such as automatic cloud backups and the inadvertent recording of metadata such as image location.
Protection of patient confidentiality is central to doctors’ longstanding professional and ethical codes of practice. Legally, under the new Australian Privacy Principles that came into effect in March 2014, significant financial penalties apply for breaches in confidentiality of medical records, as well as to various state and territory legislation that applies to public hospital records.
The AMA Council of Doctors-in-Training has collaborated with the Medical Indemnity Industry Association of Australia to develop Clinical images and the use of personal mobile devices: a guide for medical students and doctors.
The list of possible pitfalls covered in paragraphs 6 and 7 are really enough to give anyone pause and it certainly seems to me the document mentioned in the last paragraph is critical reading!
Think before snapping seems the be the maxim!
Posted by Dr David G More MB PhD at Wednesday, April 22, 2015