in HIPAA Headlines by John Brewer

If you haven’t heard yet, Rep. Anthony Weiner (D-NY) has tweeted his way into a major problem.

I will first start with a few jokes…I just can’t help it:

“I see only two options here: Either Anthony Weiner has too many photos of his junk to keep track of, or ‘Certitiude’ is his nickname for his penis.” —Stephen Colbert

“In real life, in my memory, this guy had a lot more ‘Anthony’ and a lot less ‘Weiner.’ … “The only thing they have in common is that they both lean to the extreme left!” —Jon Stewart

“Congressman Weiner said the photo leak was a prank, he’s a victim, the picture could be taken out of context? In what possible context would you take this picture? Maybe he meant to send it to his Doctor, with the message, ‘Okay, it’s been four hours, time to get you involved.” —NPR’s “Wait Wait…Don’t Tell Me!”

“Bill Clinton Blasts Weiner: ‘In my day, we’d show it to ’em in person.'” —Andy Borowitz

Ok, now that part is over…time to get serious.

Mr. Weiner (yes, I am laughing as I write this) initially denied he made this Twitter post.  He has now confessed he did this from the beginning.

Yet, now he claims he has done nothing wrong.

Let’s look at this from a different angle.
What if something like this happened in your office?

Maybe not anything sexual, but something you wouldn’t want posted about your practice.
Something that could be bad PR for your practice

How would you handle this?

Think of the questions:

  • Are you going to fire this employee?
  • What is your policy on posting tweets at your practice?
  • Can you legally fire this person?

IF you do not have a clear policy on social media that everybody is aware of in your practice, you will end up creating a huge headache for yourself.

Social Media can be a great tool for your practice IF handled correctly.

You need to specify who is to handle your social media.

You need to specify what the rules are for those who are not designated to handle your social media.

Our suggestion is aimed at reducing your risk:

  • Deny all use of social media in the office, whether on office devices or personal devices.
  • No online posts shall be made during business hours.
  • Only those designated may make posts representing the practice.
  • Any violation of the policies is grounds for immediate termination.

If you do not start out with the upper hand in these situations, you will end up with a prolonged legal battle that you do not want to deal with or pay lawyers for.

Essentially most of realm of HIPAA violations comes back to you.

Your goal should be compliance, and part of that compliance is minimizing your risk.

If you do not minimize your risk, you could very easily get one of those huge fines dropped on you, and that will definitely ruin the mood.

The final wrap-up is:

  • Have a clear company computer policy on social media
  • Ensure everybody is trained on this policy
  • Enforce this policy from the top-down
  • IF there is a violation, don’t deny, but deal with the issue.

About John Brewer

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