Repeat Warning on Physician Blogs

Join Our Mailing List

Understanding New-Wave Patient Privacy Risks

[By Staff Reporters]Blood Pressure Cuff

Many people are blogging these days, including physicians. Some say the rapidly expanding medium provides a great opportunity for doctors to better educate patients and the public about the practice of medicine.


But, others warn that medical or just personal opinion blogging, also presents new risks of breaching patient privacy. As blogs proliferate, some hospital privacy officers are considering policies that would provide professional standards for employees engaged in the activity, and protect their institutions from potential violations of HIPAA.

Ohio State Advice

In a recent Report on Patient Privacy [9/22/08], Julie Chicoine, compliance director at The Ohio State University Medical Center, offers the following pointers for physicians:

  • Be careful. “You should … write as if your patients, co-workers, colleagues, etc. are going to read your posting every day, and know that it came from you.
  • Focus on education and general medical principles. Avoid information that is too specific and situations that are likely to be identified by others in your local community.
  • Ask your malpractice carrier if they have issues with this topic.
  • Never post in the heat of passion. No matter what the circumstances, allow yourself a cooling-off period before logging on and sharing your concerns.
  • Blogs are not the appropriate forum for medical mistakes or hospital errors. Pursue those concerns through the appropriate administrative channels within the hospital.
  • Include a disclaimer that posts are not medical advice.


Your thoughts and comments on this ME-P are appreciated. Feel free to review our top-left column, and top-right sidebar materials, links, URLs and related websites, too. Then, subscribe to the ME-P. It is fast, free and secure.

Speaker: If you need a moderator or speaker for an upcoming event, Dr. David E. Marcinko; MBA – Publisher-in-Chief of the Medical Executive-Post – is available for seminar or speaking engagements. Contact:


Product Details


4 Responses

  1. DDS versus MBA,

    On October 18, two days before HHS Secretary Michael Leavitt was to address the ADA House of Delegates at the 2006 national convention in Las Vegas, I posted “Careful with that electronic health record, Mr. Leavitt” as a guest column on WTN.

    By the time he stood up to the podium, my column came up as his first news hit when one googlesearched his name. It remained so for several days following the convention. Perfect timing, don’t you think?

    -Darrell K. Pruitt; DDS

    The WTN column is still the most popular piece I have ever posted. It was even translated into Chinese (somewhere on the Internet).

    I like to think I am the reason that the Cabinet Secretary was especially pissed at dentists when he threatened to sick MBAs on us. (“Health standard setting: ‘”If the DDSs don’t do it, the MBAs will'” – ADA News, October 20, 2006)

    -Darrell K. Pruitt; DDS


  2. Blogger Status,

    The status of credible medical blogging is rising. Read more here:

    Now, be sure to subscribe to this ME-P, and send in your posts and comments.

    Ann Miller; RN, MHA


  3. JAMA Warning

    On the other hand, this situation is getting so severe that even JAMA has issued medical students a warning on blogs.



  4. Empowered customers are never wrong

    I’ve followed the Madow Group dental consulting firm for quite a while. It’s my opinion that the dentist brothers consistently offer solid, unbiased advice. Recently, an article about Internet hate mail titled “They Said THAT About My Practice?” was posted on their Website.

    They advise dentists to dilute inevitable bad reviews on the Internet by encouraging satisfied patients to put in a few good words for one’s practice on popular ratings sites.

    “As with many things in life, the best offense is a great defense. In this case, a great defense means having so many positive things about your practice on the web that this review appears to be exactly what it is – the crazy ramblings of a disgruntled crackpot!”

    They also stress that dentists should stay cool and never argue with a dissatisfied customer in the front of the store.

    “Remember the key thing – don’t panic. Bad reviews on the web are a normal thing in today’s hyper-connected world. Secondly, ignore your first impulse to write a rambling diatribe letting everyone in the cyber-world know what a jerk Mrs. Crumley is. The last thing you want to do is engage her in a back and forth e-battle with everyone trying to get in the last word.”

    The customer was always right even before the Internet. Now they can prove it to everyone.

    D. Kellus Pruitt DDS


Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: