Doctors warned on patient pics

Authors of an article in the recent MJA have warned that with the increase of the practice by clinicians, and the resulting possibilities for these visual records to be used for patient management, medical education or research, doctors should be fully aware of their legal obligations.

Lead author Dr Patrick Mahar, of Melbourne’s Skin & Cancer Foundation, wrote that indemnity providers in both Australia and the UK had identified the “use or misuse of clinical photographs as an emerging medico-legal risk for the medical profession”.

“For consent to be lawful it must be more than a perfunctory signature at the bottom of a pre-prepared proforma,” the authors wrote.

“A reasonable approach to maintaining patient confidence and supporting patient autonomy is to obtain purpose-specific informed consent, preferably written, before taking photographs.”

Dr Sara Bird, manager of medico-legal and advisory