Technology is developing at a breath-taking pace across social and professional domains, and medical practice is no exception. New technologies create exciting possibilities for providing and documenting care, and for…
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Technological developments are changing practice in medicine. These changes can be beneficial for patient care, but they can also generate risks. The Faculty of Medical and Health Sciences at the University of Auckland have adopted a policy that clarifies expectations for the way in which healthcare students handle photographic and radiological images of patients. This policy prohibits University of Auckland healthcare students from uploading patient images to image-sharing apps and also sets requirements relating to the use of personal devices to take images of patients for treatment purposes.
To develop a policy governing the taking and sharing of photographic and radiological images by medical students.
The Rules of the Health Information Privacy Code 1994 and the Code of Health and Disability Services Consumers’ Rights were applied to the taking, storing and sharing of photographic and radiological images by medical students. Stakeholders, including clinicians, medical students, lawyers at district health boards in the Auckland region, the Office of the Privacy Commissioner and the Health and Disability Commissioner were consulted and their recommendations incorporated.
The policy ‘Taking and Sharing Images of Patients’ sets expectations of students in relation to: photographs taken for the purpose of providing care; photographs taken for educational or professional practice purposes and photographic or radiological images used for educational or professional practice purposes. In addition, it prohibits students from uploading images of patients onto image-sharing apps such as Figure 1. The policy has since been extended to apply to all students at the Faculty of Medical and Health Sciences at the University of Auckland.
Technology-driven evolutions in practice necessitate regular review to ensure compliance with existing legal regulations and ethical frameworks. This policy offers a starting point for healthcare providers to review their own policies and practice, with a view to ensuring that patients' trust in the treatment that their health information receives is upheld.