Patient Photos on Social Media

What legal issues should you consider before featuring patient photos in your social media campaigns?

[Video Transcript]

So, you want to share patient photos on your social media. What are some things you should consider first?

I’m Erin Jackson with Jackson LLP Healthcare Lawyers.

First, you’ll want to consider HIPAA and your state medical privacy laws. These will dictate how you can use patient data, including their photographs, and other identifying information. It’s common for those in aesthetics to want to share before-and-after photos. And often, these include age or whatever type of treatment was performed, and this is all information that is protected by HIPAA and/or by your state medical privacy laws.

The second thing to consider is informed consent. It’s crucial that you obtain informed consent specifically to sharing photographs of your patients. Your informed consent to treatment form doesn’t and shouldn’t include permission to also share their photos on social media.

Third, you’ll want to consider your state’s biometric information protection laws. Some states have had settlements against big companies like Facebook or Snapchat, where people have recovered for the misuse of their photographs and their data by these big entities.

There’s also one more thing you may not have thought of, and that is if you embark down this road, how are you going to handle the customer service angle of all this? For example, if you share patient photos to Facebook, and people make negative, rude, unkind comments on your patient’s photos, how are you going to handle that as a practice? Are you going to engage in dialogue with them? You need to be careful about not divulging additional information about your patient that they didn’t give you permission to do.

And also, how are you going to handle the customer service angle of your patient wanting their photos taken down? We’ve all heard that once something’s out on the internet, there’s no take-backs. So how are you going to ensure that your patient is truly consenting to this? It really is a big decision to share patient photos on social media and online. And it’s one we encourage you to consider carefully and to establish detailed processes for handling before you start sharing.

This blog is made for educational purposes and is not intended to be specific legal advice to any particular person. It does not create an attorney-client relationship between our firm and the reader. It should not be used as a substitute for competent legal advice from a licensed attorney in your jurisdiction.

Skip to content