You are served with a complaint involving a high-profile patient, in this case a professional athlete. You performed surgery on her and she claims she can no longer run and jump like she used to, prior to your surgical correction. Your first reaction is to call a friend that works for a newspaper in order to give them your side of the story before it leaks to the media. The newspaper, following up on your tip, contacts the athlete and is told a very different story from the patient’s point of view.
Rarely, if ever, is going to the press a good idea. More important than your reputation is your duty to adhere to HIPAA law and abide by protecting the patient’s personal health information. This is despite that fact that your former patient might be expressing negative opinions about you in the media. Do not speak with the media before, during, or after litigation before consulting with your attorney. Follow your attorney’s advice as to how, when, and if you should speak with the press or use any other platform for expression, such as social media. Certainly, avoid any temptation to alter the patient’s chart, even to make yourself look better.
The takeaways from this story are:
- Do not speak to anyone other than your attorney.
- Do not breach your patient’s right to confidentiality.
- You shall not alter the chart; it is illegal and destroys both your credibility and the credibility of the chart.