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clinical photography in the ED

  • there is no general prohibition against clinicians keeping their own records … so long as they maintain proper respect for their patients
  • clinicians who take medical photos have practical, legal and ethical issues to negotiate
  • it is strongly advised that written informed consent is obtained from the patient even if steps are taken to hide the identity of the patients in the images
  • a clinician who takes a photograph is obliged to ensure the patient's privacy is respected and maintained
    • this is difficult to ensure with images taken with smartphones and transmitted to a peer even if the intent is for the direct benefit of the patient's care and doing so could potentially expose the clinician to legal risk
    • hiding a patient's identity may not be sufficient to prevent later identification through contextual linkage
    • as part of the de-identification process, the date, time and GPS data in the EXIF part of the image should be removed.
    • once an image has made it's way into a public forum such as the internet, it can NEVER be retrieved and its usage can never be assured but the clinician who took the photograph may be liable for the ramifications of doing so.
    • likewise storage of such images on personal storage devices potentially run a security risk if those devices find their way into the hands of third parties such as thieves - hence the critical importance of securing your data
    • it goes without saying that offering such images to 3rd parties such as the media without the patient's explicit informed consent is a breech of the patient's privacy
    • the patient has a right to determine the usage of their images
  • if adequate written informed consent is not able to be obtained, the clinician taking the photograph should strongly consider ensuring the image is deleted once it is no longer needed for the direct benefit to the patient's clinical care
    • retaining images of cases without consent no matter how fascinating or clinically interesting is exposing the clinician to undue legal risk as many such images are then collected by peers for their own education and the clinician who took the photos then potentially loses control of maintaining patient privacy.

ownership of images

  • assuming the clinician has taken clinical photographs with the patient's written informed consent, the ownership and potential usage of the images may not always be clear cut
  • in general, if an employee takes photographs during the course of his employment, the copyright of the images resides with the employer
    • it is less clear cut when the clinician is a contractor, ownership would then depend on express or implied terms in contracts
photo/clinical_photography.txt · Last modified: 2015/01/12 06:31 by

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