Dr James Edwards’ blog on a new guide for medical students and doctors by AMA and MIIAA focusing on the use of mobile devices in a clinical setting.
You are on the wards on a weekend shift and you are asked by the nursing staff to review a 45 year old female following recent mastectomy and immediate breast reconstruction surgery as they are concerned about the wound. You examine the wound and describe your findings to the on call surgical registrar. They are not in the hospital so they ask you to take a photo of the breast on your mobile phone and text it to them. You are somewhat hesitant as the patient is a well known television host. You are reassured by the registrar that clinical photos are taken all the time and he will delete the photo later.
Whilst walking towards the patient, a number of questions go through your mind…
Do I need to consent the patient?
Is verbal consent adequate?
Is it appropriate to use my personal mobile device?
Am I at fault if the registrar posts the photo on social media?
Could someone work out who the patient is despite my efforts at removing patient identifiers?
The Australian Medical Association (AMA) and the Medical Indemnity Industry Association of Australia (MIIAA) have produced a guide for the proper use of personal mobile devices when taking clinical images. The guide outlines the key ethical and legal issues to be aware of before using a personal mobile device to take or transmit clinical images for the purpose of providing clinical care.
This is a valuable guide for all hospital doctors.
However, it should be read with any relevant hospital policies related to clinical images and the use of personal mobile devices.