Are Cosmetic Surgeons Required to Keep Patient Procedures Confidential?
Social media has jumped to the top of the list of resources for readily available and real time information. At times it is easier, and more reliable, to look at the Instagram feed of a restaurant you have been wanting to try to see their food quality from actual satisfied patrons than it is to access their website or read a paid review and hope you will have a worthwhile experience. Same is true for access to all sorts of information, including the latest on cosmetic surgery as aesthetic patients take time to explore online as part of their decision-making process. In fact, it is recommended that when selecting a plastic surgeon that a patient searches through various platforms to access as much information about the surgeon and their practice as possible. Well-known and established doctors and practices post before and after photos of their clients to attract new patients to the services they have to offer as well as showing clients a glimpse of what can be achieved through their techniques and products. You may have wondered if the surgeon received consent from their patients to post the videos or photos of them. Maybe some patients want subtle changes without anyone knowing they had major surgery. Maybe it’s a celebrity or known public figure who does not want the details of their surgery exposed. Do they need to be concerned? Are cosmetic surgeons required to keep patient files confidential?
The ethical and professional use of sharing patient information on social media is explicitly set out in the Code of Ethics by the American Society of Plastic Surgeons that all plastic surgeons are expected to comply with including relevant laws, regulations, rules, and other codes of conduct. Additionally, all physicians, not just plastic surgeons, must always comply with state and federal laws regarding the release of potentially identifiable patient information. Rules to protect patients include the Standards for Privacy of Individually Identifiable Health Information and the Security Standards for the Protection of Electronic Protected Health Information established by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to implement the requirements of the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996, more commonly referred to as HIPPA.
The patient doctor relationship should be a trusted one. Every patient has the right to believe that their confidentiality is regarded and protected when they seek treatment. Before surgery, patients will sign consent forms. However, the information collected should be the minimal amount of personal data necessary to comply with legal obligations and never to expose the patient’s personal information. It is important to select a surgical practice that takes appropriate measures to secure your sensitive information while limiting who has access to the information.
With the advancement of research and technology, the field of plastic surgery relies on photographs. Conducting such research can present challenges in the anonymity and privacy of patients. Surgeons will need to obtain written informed consent to take and publish any photographs. When interviewing prospective cosmetic surgeons, ask how your procedure will be confidentially protected.
At David W. Allison, MD, our surgeons are dedicated to full transparency and integrity. We will maintain your privacy while achieving the results you envision. Call 703-754-8228 or book online at WEBSITE to learn more about how we can support you in whichever cosmetic surgery or treatment option is right for you.