Wednesday, February 17, 2010

HIPAA-free hospital views

Lately, I've discovered quite a few really excellent early photographs of scenes in the Doernbecher Memorial Hospital for Children (now called Doernbecher Children's Hospital) in a large collection of random stuff that we continue to pile through. There's one with Santa visiting the children, with a man in what appears to be standard Sami dress leading an actual reindeer. There are great shots of patients at meal times, or selecting items off the toy cart. I'd love to share them all with you here.

Alas, HIPAA prevents us from publishing any photos of patients shown full face without permission from the individual and/or the individual's family for 75 years from the death of the patient. And while Doernbecher did first open in 1926, odds are very good that most of these young patients lived well beyond 1935. It's true that most of these photos were probably taken for the purposes of publicity, but since HIPAA didn't exist back then (neither did informed consent, or many of the safeguards we've come to think of as "patients' rights"), it would be very difficult to resurrect proof of permission granted. And while we could assume that the individuals depicted would never see this blog post, or that if they did they would not take offense, we try to be as respectful as we can in dealing with those who were not here for education or a paycheck.

This morning, though, I came across a lovely shot sans patients, which shows an examination room in the hospital in the 1920s (probably; it's not dated). Enjoy!


W Kizer said...

I have just run into this HIPAA issue regarding old historical photographs and I am flabbergasted. It will make a huge difference in the book that I have been writing to not include interesting old patient photographs. Is there any way around it? This book is for a healthcare corporation, not an entity outside the healthcare industry. Thanks.

Karen Peterson said...

HIPAA certainly is a barrier to using photographs of patients. Of course, it is often too late to get permissions and finding original permissions can prove impossible. I do use images of patients but am sure not to have full face shots. You could also blur faces using Photoshop or use the "black box over the eyes trick" so often seen. As you indicate, you are writing for a covered entity so the situation becomes quite sticky. If you would like to discuss this further, please contact me and I would be happy direct you to some literature and/or talk more about how I handle this for publications.