One of the best ways for healthcare providers to explain injuries or diseases is to use examples. Ideally you would use specific patients. Take this hypothetical example.
Joe Smith is a 23-year-old bank account manager. He was riding his bike when he swerved to avoid a jogger. He crashed, landing on his right shoulder. He went to the emergency room, where he had x-rays taken. The ER physician placed him in a sling. He saw me in the office two days later. On physical exam, I saw an obvious deformity of the lateral aspect of his clavicle. X-rays showed a significantly displaced two-part clavicle fracture. We discussed surgical and nonsurgical treatment options. Due to the displacement and risk of nonunion, we elected to proceed with surgical treatment. These are his preoperative and postoperative x-rays.
In theory, you could be that specific, but you should get the approval of the patient. It is probably worthwhile to have the patient to sign a waiver allowing you to use his name, medical information and images on your website and anywhere else you would use them. It’s possible that many patients would actually be excited to be featured on your site.
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It is probably better not to use your patient’s name. If you do use x-rays or other images, they shouldn’t have any identifying material. Even an unusual tattoo on a patient in a photo could reveal his identity.
Or consider discussing the injuries or illnesses in a general sense and not as a case study. Using Joe Smith’s clavicle fracture as an example, maybe you discuss the pros and cons of surgery in a post rather than presenting it as I did earlier.
I am not an attorney, so this post is in no way meant to serve as specific medical-legal advice. If you would like to use patient medical information online, you might consider consulting an attorney on the best practices for doing so.
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