Apologies for the extended downtime today. If it happens too often, I may be shopping for a new server to host the blog.
I have had a great response to the recent case discussions. However, there has been some concern regarding patient privacy. A couple of points to clarify. First, all identifying information has been removed, and the presentation changed. For instance, a “65-year old man shoveling snow” may in fact be a 45-year old woman taking a jog. Cases can range from something I heard as a third-party, to a case from residency, to something I saw in the clinic, to an interesting case in the emergency room. Note that the case presentation itself isn’t what’s important, but rather the interesting points and discussion that follows.
The precedence of discussing patient cases in blogs in today’s era of HIPAA has been addressed here by attorney Jeffrey Drummand:
As to HIPAA, Dallas attorney Jeffrey Drummond — who writes a blog devoted to the subject — says its rules apply to blogs as they do everything else. Physicians cannot give out information that would identify a patient — name, Social Security number, e-mail address, pictures. It also may be a good idea to take other precautions when blogging about an individual patient visit, something that happens from time to time in the physician blogosphere.
“For example, you can talk about somebody who had a liver transplant,” Drummond says. “But if you talk about a baseball player who had a liver transplant in Dallas, Texas, that makes it pretty clear who you’re talking about” — in this case, the late Mickey Mantle.
Any time where an identifying picture is needed to present a case, such as the recent discussion on Bell’s Palsy, I find a picture via Google Images that is available publicly.
That being said, thank you all for your continued support for the blog, and I’ll keep the interesting cases coming.