August 13, 2008 | | Comments 2
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Study finds medical blogs risk patient privacy

Blogs have emerged as great tools for nurses and physicians wanting to spread healthcare information. For some, they serve as emotional outlets to share experiences with others in the field. But could they be relaying too much to the public?

A study recently published in the Journal of General Internal Medicine examined 271 medical blogs to determine how often nurses and physicians wrote about patients, violated patient privacy, or displayed a lack of professionalism. Of the findings, 42% of blogs had content describing private interactions with patients. Seventeen percent of blogs disclosed information sufficient for patients to recognize themselves or their doctors and about 18% portrayed patients “negatively.” A few displayed pictures of patients in which they could easily be identified.

Tara Lagu, a Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Clinical Scholar and an internal medicine specialist held the study, who also found 65% of the blogs were written anonymously, with the remaining blogs identifying the names of the authors. View an abstract of the study.

What are your thoughts after seeing these results?

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Keri Mucci About the Author: Keri is an Editorial Assistant in the nursing group at HCPro, Inc. She helps maintain two Web sites (including this one), edits the journal Strategies for Nurse Managers, writes articles, and conducts market research within the industry. She earned her bachelor’s degree in journalism from Salem (MA) State College in 2007.

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  1. I would agree that we can not risk a patient’s right to privacy. However, if there are no names given or other specific details-e.g. pictures of the patient-I don’t think we are violating HIPPA. There has to be a way for our voices to be heard .

  2. Medical blogs are truly a wonderful way of sharing new knowledge and networking. There really is no reason to infringe on any HIPPA regulations as there is no reason to use names. With EMR and technology we have unlimited access to one of the most valuable resources that exist. Each other….

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