How should doctors protect patients’ privacy in the Internet age?

In this Internet era, when communication becomes easy, privacy may also be exposed to the public at any time.

See your medical records online? It is possible that

A few months ago, a star was admitted to hospital due to testicular injury, and the operation notice was circulated online and instantly spread all over the streets.

According to the principle, this kind of medical document cannot be circulated, because the notice has not done any treatment on the main name, age, diagnosis, operation method, etc. except for the minor information such as the patient’s ward, bed and hospitalization number.

The other complete medical record in internal circulation has more contents, such as age, contact information, address, marriage and childbearing history, personal medical history, operation history… (and what history, as a doctor, you know)

It can be imagined that for a star, the disclosure of these personal privacy is what kind of serious. Even if the operation was not performed by the star at that time, but by your relatives and friends, I probably don’t want to see personal information so disclosed. However, unfortunately, we still have a long way to go to protect the privacy of patients.

Similarly, it was the operating room photography incident in Xi’an last year. Although the health bureau made a decision to deal with the parties and leaders as soon as possible afterwards, Moreover, the patient forgave the doctor’s photo-taking behavior. However, in essence, it is still a serious invasion of the patient’s privacy. If the operation is not successful or the patient is not so accommodating, I am afraid it is not just a simple treatment.

In today’s unspeakable medical environment, we should all learn how to protect the medical privacy of each patient. At the same time, it is also to protect ourselves.

The Stone of Other Mountains

The United States has enacted the HIPAA Act (Health Insurance Carrying and Liability Act) since 1991.

This bill stipulates various rights and obligations of patients during admission, and has been continuously updated and developed within 20 years after its publication. With the rise of the Internet, relevant content has also been added.

At the same time, the National Federal Medical Ethics Committee of the United States has also issued Model Policy Guidelines for the Appropriate Use of Social Media and Social Networking in Medical Practice (Guidelines on How to Proper Use Social Media for Medical Practice in the Social Internet Era).

In Britain, similar laws have been promulgated.

In our country, although the Internet or various media (microblog, WeChat, other websites or App) have occupied every corner of our life, the management of this part is still in a blank state.

In order to attract attention, some microblog Big V and WeChat public numbers have been promoted by sharing medical stories and pictures and online medical treatment. Among them, many contents may violate patients’ privacy and even cause disputes.

Clove Garden Edition Doctors’ Internet Privacy Suggestions

Clove Garden, as a responsible medical media, naturally advocates doctors to respect and protect patients’ privacy. We have integrated the regulations on patient privacy protection of major foreign institutions and major medical professional websites, and put forward [down-to-earth] medical initiatives to protect patients’ privacy in combination with the national conditions.

At the same time, the Clove Clinic under Clove Garden will also strictly implement these guidelines.

This draft proposal may be simple and may not be perfect enough, but we believe all this is meaningful. If you have better suggestions, we will be happy to accept and adopt them. We will be very grateful if you can implement them in your daily clinical work and recommend them to your superiors, colleagues or students.

1. Don’t take photos and upload them casually in the hospital.

Especially in the operating room, ICU, emergency department and other [trouble-prone] departments. Perhaps today’s visit is a handsome boy, or a lovely child in pediatrics, or a rare star at ordinary times, but since you put on a white coat, you should face these more professionally.

2. Don’t add patients as friends casually and separate work and life.

In China’s current human society, having good contacts is indeed the so-called shortcut to success.

However, we suggest that you’d better not call the patient or add the patient as a friend on WeChat or Weibo. If you have to add it, it is recommended to use a special public phone and number, and never bring work entanglements into your life.

3. Protect your HIS account

Most hospitals have adopted HIS system, and at the same time, they have carried out in-hospital networking. Image data and pathological data can be transmitted through HIS network. This system is generally not connected with the external network, which ensures the safety of patients’ privacy to a certain extent.

However, in practice, it is difficult to ensure that your personal account is not disclosed at all. It is possible for a refresher doctor or an intern to use your account to view patient information. What is more frightening is that most HIS systems cannot automatically exit the lock screen when leaving the computer, all of which may pose a potential threat.

4. Don’t talk about illness outside the ward, especially elevators, Zhihu, microblogs and WeChat.

Most elevators in China are always crowded, with patients’ families and doctors huddled together. The most inappropriate topic at this time is the patient’s condition, especially the seriously ill and critically ill patients-you don’t know if any of his relatives or patients in the ward have heard all this.

On the Internet, everything will only get worse. Many people, especially Big V on Weibo or Zhihu Talent, are willing to share all kinds of thrilling stories about their stay in the hospital to show their superb level or rich life experience.

However, if you are the patient’s family, what will you think when you see the information of your family on the Internet (intentionally or unintentionally)? Put yourself in the other’s shoes and think about it, perhaps it will not be so difficult to protect other people’s privacy.

5, Medical record discussion should be cautious

Whether it’s a difficult case discussion, Or department rounds discussion, or patient death discussion. We all need to protect the patient’s personal information, here the protection is not limited to the name. As a medical record discussion, any personal information (identity, work information, personal address, etc.) that may be directly pushed out of the patient should be avoided. Information unrelated to diagnosis should be removed.

Participating in professional discussions online should be more stringent. For doctors, It may be convenient to copy, paste or take photos with your mobile phone, but after the information is posted on the public network, it may still be available for several years or more. In communities where only certified doctors can see case discussions (such as Clove Garden Forum), it is undoubtedly much safer.

6, clinical research to achieve informed consent

In addition to clinical work, Chinese doctors also have scientific research as an indispensable part of hospitals.

However, in clinical research, whether it is medical record report or large-scale randomized controlled trial, patients need to be clearly informed and authorized. No matter the patient’s images, laboratory tests or medical history data, they must be released with the patient’s informed consent.

At the same time, when collecting data, it is necessary to avoid the disclosure of patients’ personal information. However, most basic doctors in China do not have this awareness. It is very important to publish papers, but it is equally important to protect patients’ personal privacy.

7. Leaks shall be properly handled.

The best way is to face it frankly, followed by mending the leak as soon as possible.

If it is published by myself on social networks, edit or delete it as soon as possible. If it has already caused an impact, it should not be spoken at will at this time, but should be spoken by professional organizations (such as departments, hospital propaganda departments, or clove gardens, etc.). Fast, efficient and transparent information release can minimize the impact and losses.

An obligatory duty

There are still many potential loopholes in social media, such as lack of protection against privacy disclosure. However, in today’s social media has become an indispensable part of our life, and these technical problems will be solved sooner or later.

Now we are exploring the unknown at the same speed as the world is shrinking. As guardians of human life, we need to always walk at the front end of science and technology, and cannot relax the doctor’s principle due to the complexity of the network environment.

As a responsible and conscientious social media in the medical field, Clove Garden is duty-bound to advocate doctors to protect patients’ privacy and protect doctors’ working environment.