There are times when our experiences can create valuable lessons for other physicians. In these events it’s a good idea to consider the PRIP criteria. It offers a basic construct for thinking about when and why to post things online that may involve a patient care experience.
Physician-specific social networks represent a powerful support tool, especially those working in rural areas and lacking a rich medical community. Physicians on public social networks will sometimes discuss de-identified experiences experiences with patients. While social media has given physicians new ways to share stories, the right to publish comes with a responsibility.
PRIP: 4 questions to ask before discussing clinical issues on social networks
PRIVACY | Is the privacy of the patient protected? While US law mandates that a patient’s story should never be identifiable to another individual, the trickier question comes when a patient experience is de-identified to the world, yet still potentially identifiable to the patient. If a story cannot be fictionalized or de-identified to the patient involved, that person either needs to be asked for permission or the case shouldn’t be used in public.
RESPECT | Does your use of the experience respect the patient? What if this case or story were shown to the patient involved? How would they feel about it? Our commitment to the respect and privacy of those under our care goes above our individual right to publish.
INTENT | What are you trying to do? Is the intent to demonstrate or show a point that has real value to other physicians? Or is the intent to create an amusing experience for your peers? What’s in your heart and why a clinical case must be shared may be the most important element in determining whether it’s appropriate to consider for use beyond the exam room.
PERCEPTION | How will this look? While your intent may be good, how your presentation of the story is potentially perceived by other professionals or the public is an important consideration.
So remember the PRIP criteria in your discussions and you’ll go far in avoiding trouble and respecting the patients under your care.
This page is part of a bigger project: The Public Physician, a field guide for life online. To read more about how doctors can handle their online presence check out the Public Physician landing page.
Updated January 2020.