Patient Privacy Rights Extend Beyond U.S. Borders, Ethicists Say
U.S. patients who agree to be photographed sign consent forms. Black says even getting consent from patients in developing countries poses an ethical challenge, because patients may feel they have to sign the form to receive medical care. Also, because the Internet is borderless, posting pictures to social networking sites could have repercussions for some patients, particularly if the images were taken in countries where being treated by an American doctor is frowned upon.
Even posting photos to a "private" page is not really ensuring patient privacy because, in some cases, the person posting the photo could be sharing it with 1,000 "friends," Black said.
"We are not telling people not to do anything," Black said. "We are telling them to think about it. Use your moral and ethical compass. What if this was your child?"
John Commins is a senior editor with HealthLeaders Media.
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