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IL license lawyerSocial media has dramatically changed the way people interact with one another, and it has become a large part of life for many people. In fact, a recent study found that about 244 million Americans—about two-thirds of the entire population!—use some type of social media. Many professionals, including lawyers, accountants, and consultants, maintain various social media accounts, as do many doctors, psychologists, dentists, and other healthcare professionals. In light of modern privacy laws, however, medical professionals must be sure that their social media posting remains ethical and compliant with the standards that apply to such individuals.

Privacy and Ethics

A healthcare professional is required to follow a variety of privacy laws, the most notable of which is the Health Insurance Portability Act—more commonly known as HIPAA. While there are many elements to HIPAA, one of the law’s primary functions is to ensure that patient’s personal and healthcare information is well protected. Unfortunately, not all medical professionals are as careful on social media as they should be, and sometimes, a doctor or nurse might post something that violates HIPAA, leading to the possibility of action from the state licensing board.

Keeping Yourself Safe

If you are a healthcare professional who uses social media for personal or professional reasons, there are few things you can do protect yourself from potential problems:

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IL license defense lawyerSocial media is a large part of many people’s daily lives. According to data from Edison Research, a vast majority (around 223 million) of Americans ages 12 and up are using social media. Even professionals such as doctors, nurses, dentists, and psychologists use social media, though things can get a little tricky because of privacy laws. Health care professionals have specific ethics and standards that they must adhere to and the use of social media presents an ethics challenge for some physicians.

All health care professionals are required to adhere to the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA), which exists to protect the privacy of patients and their health care information. Inappropriate social media usage could result in disciplinary action from the licensing board, which could affect your career. Here are a few ways you can help protect yourself on social media:

  • Be cautious about what you post on social media. One of the biggest violations that could arise out of using social media is posting patient-identifying information for all to see. HIPAA rules require complete confidentiality of patient information, which could easily be broken on social media, even if it is innocent. The best rule of thumb to follow is to just not post any information about your patients at all.
  • Separate your professional and personal accounts. Another important way you can protect yourself is by separating your personal accounts from your professional accounts. This can not only help your practice on the marketing side of things, but it can also help your professional career from being associated with your personal page.
  • Think twice before accepting friend requests from patients. Some health care professionals think that social media is a great tool that can be used for patient communication, while others think that this compromises the provider-patient relationship. It is important to draw a line so that you can avoid unprofessional behavior on social media. When in doubt, proceed with caution.

An Illinois Professional License Defense Attorney Can Help You Mitigate Any Social Media Concerns

For some health care professionals, social media is a powerful and valuable tool that they believe can be used to strengthen the patient-provider relationship. Other professionals think that social media usage can pose too much of a legal liability to be useful. If you are a health care professional who uses social media, you should talk with an Illinois professional license defense lawyer today about how you can protect your career. At the Law Offices of Joseph J. Bogdan, LLC, we can answer any questions that you might have about preventative action. We can also help you form a plan of action if you are facing penalties from social media usage. To set up a consultation, call our office today at 630-310-1267.

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