Teledermatology and clinical photography: safeguarding patient privacy and mitigating medico-legal risk.

Abstract

Capturing clinical images is becoming more prevalent in everyday clinical practice, and dermatology lends itself to the use of clinical photographs and teledermatology. "Store-and-forward", whereby clinical images are forwarded to a specialist who later responds with an opinion on diagnosis and management is a popular form of teledermatology. Store-and-forward teledermatology has proven accurate and reliable, accelerating the process of diagnosis and treatment and improving patient outcomes. Practitioners' personal smartphones and other devices are often used to capture and communicate clinical images. Patient privacy can be placed at risk with the use of this technology. Practitioners should obtain consent for taking images, explain how they will be used, apply appropriate security in their digital communications, and delete images and other data on patients from personal devices after saving these to patient health records. Failing to use appropriate security precautions poses an emerging medico-legal risk for practitioners.

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