Hipaa, blogs and cellphones questions!

Garp

Forum Ride Along
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Hello; long time reader, first time poster.

I am a senior in an emergency services management degree, doing a little research on HIPAA, blogs and the rise of cellphone camera use.

I was hoping to contact some EMS/FD workers about any experiences they may have had with publicly released information. I'm looking at the surge of personal bloggers and those who may have run afoul of their department's policies on releasing information they maybe shouldn't have. I'm not looking for any damning information but more of some generalities relating to their department's policies on the matter, some types of incidents they may have been involved in and training relating to the matter. I will of course keep any details confidential. If you are interested in answering a few questions. I would appreciate it. I can be PM'd or emailed.

Here are the questions:

What kind of department are you with? IE: Fire only Ambulance only, mixed, rural, urban

Does your department have a specific policy relating to blogging, taking cellphone pics on a call or at the station house? If so I would appreciate a copy of the policy.

Do you have to inform your dept. of your blog facebook or other social networking site pages?

What kind of training is given in regards to the policy? IE: A real sit down training, a bulletin board notice, etc..

Does your department have any new training or policies relating to possibly being video'd or recorded by a bystander, family member or patient now that every cellphone can do that?

What kinds of violations and actions were taken relating to any lapses in the policy in your department? IE: One department stated that their only breach was a firefighter who took some pictures in front of his rig in his tux with his new bride in her wedding dress and posted them to his blog. While perfectly innocent, the department required that he take the pictures off his blog or photoshop out the department's graphics from the rig so the department could not be identified.

I'm not looking for any information to incriminate anyone and I have seen all of the 'nude pics taken at the FD" articles. I'm looking more for personal blog/facebook level types of policies and lapses and how they were handled, and copies of any department policies relating to the matter.

PM me here and we can exchange real email addresses. I'll be glad to provide a finished copy of the research paper I am doing.

Garp
 

ArcticKat

Forum Captain
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Not company policy, but a personal perspective. It's immoral, immature, and unprofessional to be snapping photos like that or revealing details of a particular call and posting them on a public forum. Discussing an anonymous call with counterparts for educational benefit is acceptable, but having a blog to boost your ego and brag up your calls is not.

My 2¢
 
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Garp

Forum Ride Along
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AK: I agree, and I'm sure most people wouldn't do so. But, it could be tempting to take a pic since your phone is right there and would only take 2 seconds especially later in the call during cleanup or something. I'm also sure that most crews would agree that a picture of a burned out house would carry far different implications than a picture of a firefighter making a save, or of a patient etc..

The policy could also relate to taking pics in the firehouse, goofing around with gear, blogging about what kind of rigs your department may be looking to buy, complaining about other crew members publicly, whining about your shift etc..
 
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Zodiac

Forum Crew Member
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Taking pictures of scenes isn't my cup of tea but I don't see a problem with other people doing it as long as the pictures aren't of anything that could reveal the identity of the patient. Do I think it's trashy to snap pictures of blood soaked MVA scenes to show your friends? Kind of. But it doesn't really go against any HIPPA laws assuming the car involved isn't some crazy ultra exotic that everybody in town is familiar with.
 

MagicTyler

Forum Lieutenant
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Our medical director wants pictures of the scene to show the doc when they come in. So its very common to see the fight or ambulance crews with their phones out taking pictures. I cant imagine what would happen if thoughs pictures ened up on the web or shown to anyone not related to care.
 
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Garp

Forum Ride Along
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Our medical director wants pictures of the scene to show the doc when they come in. So its very common to see the fight or ambulance crews with their phones out taking pictures. I cant imagine what would happen if thoughs pictures ened up on the web or shown to anyone not related to care.

MT: Do you have any written docs relating to this practice you could send me? Are they personal phones or dept. phones?
 
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Garp

Forum Ride Along
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Doesnt look like I have permissions to contact him directly due to my noob status. Maybe he'll find his way here.
 

sirengirl

Forum Lieutenant
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I myself keep a blog. I currently volunter BLS and I tell about the kind of calls I get. My patients are never identified by gender or name or physical description unless the phys description is pertinent to the call- i.e. "they were a mouth breather." My patients are numbered in the order I recieve the calls ("Patient 1" or "Patitent #2" or "#3" etc). A majority of the things I talk about are related to the interaction between me and the patient ("I held their hand" or "I was worried about ___"), or a generalisation of the call- "It was a medical transport from the ER back to the nursing home," "We got a call for a slip-and-fall at home," etc. I purposefully mis-name the main street of the town I work in whenever I describe an MVA (or more accurately, lack thereof). I understand that a lot of people frown on me for writing on the internet about my experiences working with the public in need, but I like being able to look back on each and every call I've had, being able to learn from my mistakes and being able to share with others the things that I find interesting.

I actually started the blog so that when I start medic classes, I can write about the things I learn. IVs, different conditions, ECGs, etc. So that when I start learning more, I have a place to organise my thoughts and share them with others for feedback. I would never take a picture of a patient, or of a fellow squad member without the squad member's permission. The pictures I do post are actually usually of my equipment; "This is a BVM" or "This is how I use an OPA."

Names, identifying features/descriptions/locations/injuries, posting pictures with landmarks or street signs, or of a patient's neighborhood or a building address, is never okay, and I don't think there's anyone on here dumb enough to cross that line.
 
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Sasha

Forum Chief
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AK: I agree, and I'm sure most people wouldn't do so. But, it could be tempting to take a pic since your phone is right there and would only take 2 seconds especially later in the call during cleanup or something. I'm also sure that most crews would agree that a picture of a burned out house would carry far different implications than a picture of a firefighter making a save, or of a patient etc..

The policy could also relate to taking pics in the firehouse, goofing around with gear, blogging about what kind of rigs your department may be looking to buy, complaining about other crew members publicly, whining about your shift etc..



Guuuurl please.
 

LucidResq

Forum Deputy Chief
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My best friend obtained a patient's permission to photograph some unique extremity injuries he had from an animal attack. These photographs were taken on a real camera and distributed to other ED staff for educational purposes.

There is a big difference between this kind of situation and snapping a photo of a patient's injuries (identifying features / information or not) and texting it to all your buddies.

I do not think it is appropriate to take such photos of scenes or patients on a personal cell phone unless it is intended to be shown exclusively to receiving staff to allow for better patient care and then deleted.
 
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Lifeguards For Life

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I do not think it is appropriate to take such photos of scenes or patients on a personal cell phone unless it is intended to be shown exclusively to receiving staff to allow for better patient care and then deleted.

What do they need a picture for? you are bringing the patient to the ER with you, aren't you?
 

TransportJockey

Forum Chief
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What do they need a picture for? you are bringing the patient to the ER with you, aren't you?

A TC comes to mind as something an ER Doc might want to see a picture of, even if you are bringing the patient to them.
 

ArcticKat

Forum Captain
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You don't teach or like education, do ya?


Indeed I do, on both counts. Try reading my post again....did you not notice the caveat there?

Don't read much, do ya? Please, read the last sentence of my original post too please.

If you're into teaching and education, then why can't you educate the rest of us why you disagree instead of making assinine comments with no real substance?
 
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