If a physician (or physician’s office) is going to email patients, due consideration should be given to HIPAA implications as well as medical malpractice issues. Whenever drafting an email, consider what the email could look like posted as evidence in a courtroom. Adopt a policy concerning email communications and stick with the policy.
Consider the following:
Encrypt email for secured communications.
Save emails to your medical record. You do not want to be in a position ever where a patient can produce an email from you but you don’t have a copy of it.
Include a confidentiality notice on all email.
Include the minimum necessary information in an email.
Never write emails when you are tired or angry. Save your email as a draft. Review once more before sending.
Do not copy others on emails to patients unless it is to your office administrator who is responsible for diligently saving the email.
Do not use email as a replacement for office visits.
Require patients to agree to the use of email for communications. Provide the patient a policy specifying what email can be used for.
© 2008 Parsonage Vandenack Williams LLC