Sydney hospital bans surgeons from using Snapchat

17 Jul 2017

Westmead Private Hospital in Sydney has banned surgeons from using Snapchat during surgical procedures, due to fears they could be sued by patients over privacy or negligence issues.

Snapchat, the mobile app that allows users to capture videos and pictures that disappear after a few seconds, has become a popular marketing tool and has been used by some practitioners to showcase treatments to potential patients.

Plastic surgeon Mr Laith Barnouti from Westmead Private Hospital, said the risk to both patients and surgeons was too high, claiming one Australian hospital and one of its surgeons are being taken to court by a former patient over privacy concerns involving the app.

“There are privacy issues, because even if the patients does consent to being filmed beforehand, which doesn’t always happen, they can’t approve every live video that’s being sent,” Dr Barnouti told Australian website, news.com.au. He added, “Even if the patient consented for their photo to be taken, they might not consent for their pubic hair or their genitalia or their nipples or their face to be in it. They probably didn’t know their whole face would be shown."

A spokeswoman for the Royal Australian College of Surgeons said the industry body recommends its members refrain from 'posting images (whether identifiable or not) or information' about patients, as well as posting comments or information which 'may breach any obligations to their employers'. 

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