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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Dermatology Online Journal

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Addressing public criticism: a potential HIPAA violation


Although patients are able to speak openly about their healthcare experience in negative reviews, laws protecting the privacy of the patient constrain providers from responding as freely. Unfortunately, violation of this principle occurs when responding to online patient criticism. We describe a case of a physician assistant revealing protected health information of a patient in response to a critical New York Times article. Providers must be wary of violating patients' privacy, even when they are criticized online. Addressing patients' concerns and neutral, caring online responses may be the physician's best options for responding to negative reviews.

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