Privacy is Essential
I was at a conference and I have to say that I did not expect to experience HIPAA issues. It did not have to do with the presentation. It was members from a specific company who started to discuss patients because they do not get together very often. Although the conference was limited to health care workers, we were all from different companies and I do not think they were aware that anyone but themselves was able to hear them.
The idea of talking about care in general allows us as professionals to lower our guard. We believe that we are in a safe environment. With so much social media available and goings-on recorded, what we say should be guarded more than ever. Stop to think about the possibility that you could be talking about a specific patient with specific details and someone nearby could be videotaping -- that conversation could end up on the internet.
Even worse, would you like it if someone was talking about you and your life in public? I believe we should treat all our patients as we do our family. Privacy is essential for creating trust and once you lose that trust it is terribly hard to get it back. We need trust to help the patient accept an invasion of their privacy at a time when they are vulnerable. We also need them to trust us as a tool to help accept therapy.
We need to protect ourselves and our careers. Even when we are among ourselves as a group, we need to keep in mind that HIPAA laws always pertain to us. I never want to see anyone a their job or credentials because of something that could have been prevented.