The AMA has released a guide on the taking, distribution and storage of clinical images that does a great job of outlining an approach to the matter. This is an increasingly important consideration, with potential for breaches in confidentiality and as a source for patient complaints.
The key messages are:
- Abide by your local policy or guidelines
- Get informed consent - not only for taking the image, but also for how you are going to use the image (eg. for the medical record, for sending to a specialist for consultation or for teaching purposes). Patients have the right to refuse consent to imagery, its transmission or use in teaching.
- Be careful about sharing - make sure you have consent to share, especially if the photo is identifiable, and only share it with those that it is clinically required to do so
- Store securely - as part of the medical record (whose hospital has a facility to upload images to a medical record from personal devices?)
- Delete the photo from your personal phone - and make sure it isn't automagically backed up to the cloud—we've seen what happens with that
It boils down to being sensible, and not posting your pictures on facebook.