Patient privacy is enshrined in ethical and legal statutes, but what about their doctors' privacy?
Two psychiatrists at Massachusetts General Hospital counsel their colleagues on the lengths their patients may go to in order to dig up digital dirt on them, from how much they paid for their houses to what their sexual orientation may be. Perhaps just as worrying as Internet stalking is the ease of stumbling onto suspect sources, they say in a commentary that warns older doctors not conversant with the Web that they ignore it at their peril.
"There may be slanderous information about a physician on the Web, published in a blog or on a Web page, by a vengeful patient, colleague, or ex-lover," Dr. Tristan Gorrindo and Dr. James E. Groves write in the Journal of the American Medical Association. "Equally vexing, there may be slanderous information published about someone with the same name as an unlucky physician."
What's a doctor to do? First, take a spin through Google to see what's out there, they advise.
Then take control. Fight back with a plain vanilla Web page containing a basic bio and contact information.
"Such information may satisfy a patient's desire to find some digital connectedness to his or her physician, thereby discouraging deeper online probing," they write.
Of course, they can also talk to their patients about it.
"If a physician suspects that an Internet-savvy patient is engaged in seeking personal information about him or her, we recommend that the physician talk with the patient about the garnered information."
About white coat notes
|White Coat Notes covers the latest from the health care industry, hospitals, doctors offices, labs, insurers, and the corridors of government. Chelsea Conaboy previously covered health care for The Philadelphia Inquirer. Write her at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter: @cconaboy.|
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