Breaking Compliance News Blog

HIPAA hazard: Doctor appears in traffic court by webcam from the OR

Posted by Margaret Scavotto, JD, CHC on 3/9/21 1:27 PM

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web conferencing is wonderful

A California doctor recently appeared in traffic court by videoconference while he was performing plastic surgery. The traffic court session was livestreamed and posted to YouTube.

The traffic court commissioner could see that a medical operation was in process, and said: “I do not feel comfortable for the welfare of a patient if you’re in the process of operating….” The trial was rescheduled.

The Medical Board of California is investigating the incident.

I’m also concerned about privacy. The article noted that the patient was out of view. But… what if something went wrong during the surgery (and during the traffic court proceeding)? What if another medical professional mentions the patient’s name? What if medical chart information or EHR screens are visible? While there is no indication that a privacy violation occurred, my head is spinning trying to think through all of the potential HIPAA issues. A lot of planning would be needed to make sure privacy was protected – and we spend enough time doing that already for more medically appropriate uses of technology.

But this head-scratching headline raises a good point. People are using Zoom (and other videoconferencing platforms) all the time and everywhere. On their phones, at home, at work. A child in my first grader’s class attended virtual school from his car the other day. It has become second-nature, as has the multi-tasking that often accompanies our overlapping virtual and in-person worlds. What have you done about this from a HIPAA standpoint? Is everyone trained to be very very VERY careful not to inadvertently share PHI if they share their screens? Does everyone understand how crucial it is not to disclose PHI in the background of a Zoom meeting?

Working remotely might be here to stay for some of us. We need to make sure it’s a permanent part of our privacy training.

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f.hubspotusercontent00.nethubfs378557HIPAA MOMENTS SNIP


Topics: HIPAA, security, privacy

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