It’s a visual that has been passed down from generation to generation, from the time you were a child to now as a parent: the classic collage hanging in the reception area of any pediatrician’s or obstetrician’s office. The framed faces of children for whom the physician has cared – oftentimes spanning the patient’s entire adolescent life – captures fragments of time, ranging from the first moment a baby enters the world to a professional shot of that same child graduating high school.
As harmless as this act may seem, a question has surfaced regarding the use of patient photo collages in a doctor’s practice: is it an invasion of the HIPAA Privacy Rule section, which protects the privacy of individually identifiable health information? Fueling this debate are social media outlets such as Instagram and Facebook, where an individual can snap a photo anywhere at any time, inciting parental fear that predators may use these images in a grievous matter.
In a recent New York Times article, titled “Baby Pictures at the Doctor’s? Cute, Sure, But Illegal,” Professor of Obstetrics & Gynecology, Dr. Mark V. Sauer, Program Director of the Center for Women’s Reproductive Care, Vice Chair of Department of Obstetrics & Gynecology, and Division Chief of Endocrinology & Infertility at Columbia University Medical Center, offers his perspective on this topic.
“I’ve had patients ask me, ‘Where’s your baby board?’” Dr. Sauer explained. “We just tell them the truth, which is that we no longer post them because of concerns over privacy.”