Health Law Highlights

Hey Doc, Be Careful on TikTok – Legal Pitfalls of Healthcare Providers in the Social Media Age

From Buckingham, Doolittle & Burroughs, LLC, by Monica Davis:

Impact of Social Media on Healthcare: Social media platforms have enabled physicians to expand their practices, increase marketing, discover new clients, and build their reputations. However, they also pose risks..

HIPAA Violations: The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) ensures strict confidentiality in physician-patient relationships. Violations, such as disclosing Protected Health Information (PHI) without patient authorization, can lead to severe penalties, including lawsuits, fines, and loss of license.

Cyber-Security Risks: Social media can expose healthcare providers to cyber-security threats, including viruses and hackers. The potential consequences are devastating if a hacker gains access to a patient’s private information. Strong authentication mechanisms and password-protected social media can help mitigate these risks.

Reputation Management: Social media can improve a physician’s reputation and client base, but it can also damage their image. Negative reviews and harassment can quickly tarnish a healthcare provider’s reputation, leading to potential legal action for defamation.

Malpractice and Thoughtful Use: The risk of malpractice increases when healthcare professionals give advice on social media, potentially exposing themselves to negligence allegations. To minimize risk and maximize benefits, healthcare facilities should implement social media risk management strategies, such as obtaining patient consent before posting identifying information, educating staff on HIPAA and privacy laws, and designating a social media manager.