Patient Privacy / Social Media

Guidelines for Practice Success | Managing Marketing | Legal and Ethical Aspects of Marketing

Patient privacy should never be compromised, yet stories about possible violations, especially via social media outlets, continue to be featured in the news. One recent story detailed a physician losing hospital privileges because of an online post that included information that could be used to identify a specific patient.

Keep in mind that:

  • Photos and/or messages posted to the practice’s website or social media page, or the personal pages of team members, may violate privacy laws if the post identifies a patient or offers enough of an image or sufficient detail to identify a patient or staff member who has not authorized the disclosure. Releases should always be obtained in writing.
  • You can protect patients’ privacy by developing staff policies and procedures regarding the use of social media. Conduct a formal training session to make sure everyone on the team is aware of the practice’s policy and knows what types of posts to avoid. The ADA Practical Guide to Creating an Employee Policy Manual contains sample policies as well as information to help you develop your own.

The ADA Practical Guide to Creating an Employee Policy Manual

The FTC’s Advertising FAQ’s: A Guide for Small Business

The FTC's Advertising and Marketing on the Internet: Rules of the Road

The FTC’s U.S. Safe Web Act 

The FTC’s Policy Statement on Deception (PDF)

The FTC’s Endorsement Guides: What People Are Asking