Campus Safety reports:
A woman was detained and ordered to turn over her cell phone at Mercy Hospital for taking pictures of her son during a doctor’s appointment.
Mandi Kay Wilson often takes pictures of her son’s audiology appointments because she uses the images on gofundme.com to raise money for her son’s expensive hearing aids. At age seven, her son is going deaf, ky3.com reports.
However, at her latest audiologist appointment, her doctor told her that taking photos of her son were a violation of HIPAA requirements.
Read more on Campus Safety. The hospital issued the following statement:
We regret the confusion that this situation caused and want to ensure that there is clarity for both our patients and our staff regarding appropriate use of personal photography and video within our facilities. The policy is currently under review. The idea is not to prohibit patients from capturing personal memories. However, we want to ensure that we protect everyone’s right to privacy. That includes other patients, visitors, co-workers and providers who may not want to appear in someone else’s photograph, video or recording.
At first blush, this may sound like a covered entity over-reacting or mis-applying HIPAA. I see no prohibition under HIPAA of a parent taking pictures of her own child, right? But not so fast…. if other patients show up in the photos taken by the mother, then the hospital does have a concern and responsibility under HIPAA. As to staff privacy issues, that’s not under HIPAA, but I can understand that employees might not want their pictures uploaded to the Internet without their consent. Clarifying the policy and working with patients on these issues sounds like it is definitely in order here and for other covered entities.