Our Desire To Be Social and Privacy
Two interesting posts today reflect how our desire to be social often carries the a heavy burden of responsibility that many do not adhere to.
John Sharp at eHealth directed my attention to the article, Content of Weblogs Written by Health Professionals, (Journal of General Internal Medicine doi 10.1007/s11606-008-0726-6) studying 271 blogs by medical professionals. It turns out many the blogs (42%)described individual patients, some of those blogs described patient interaction in sufficient enough detail for patients to identify their doctors or themselves. Three blogs included identifiable photos of patients. The study concludes that while bloggs offers an opportunity for professional sharing, many are not being very professional about it by revealing confidential information, their unprofessional narrative tone or content. The authors of the paper feel that "health professions should assume some responsibility for helping authors and readers negotiate these challenges." John Sharp "wonders if there are similar privacy and confidentiality violations within social networking sites for medical professionals."
Well John, I would venture to guess that there are similar privacy and confidentiality issues are happening on social networking sites. Sarah Arnquist recently blogged about the article, Study: Med students sharing a bit too much info on Facebook. This brief article talks about the incredibly poor judgement and unprofessional nature of some medical students.
So where do hospitals stand regarding social networking, blogs, wikis, podcasts, etc.? How many hospitals have policies regarding these technologies and do these policies include a code of conduct or patient confidentiality? Is this whole issue largely under the radar for most hospital administration? Even it it is, where are these people's peers (the blog readers themselves) who should be holding their colleagues feet to the fire regarding the patient confidentiality issues?