A Chicago woman has reportedly sued a doctor for posting a photo on Facebook showing her recovering from an alcohol binge in the ER. She claimed the photo could “affect her potential to someday work for Fortune 500 companies.” The complaint also alleges that she was incapable of giving consent when the pictures were taken.
“I’m bothered by this. It was in a hospital setting, and it was from a doctor on staff,” says ER Physician Dr. Travis Stork. “From my perspective as an ER doctor, this should never happen.” If the facts about the incident are accurate, he says, “It goes against every ethical rule we are taught in medicine.”
Legal expert Areva Martin points out that people own their own likeness and image. “You have to have consent of the person before you can post it.” If someone posts something negative about you, you have a right to ask them to remove it and to issue a retraction. And if you can prove it was damaging to you, you may have a legal case to sue.
Dr. Stork understands the “Can you believe how this person is acting!?” response from emergency-room doctors – they see people acting bizarrely under the influence of the alcohol, and there’s the temptation to share just how bad the effects of drinking too much can be. “But you would never post it,” he adds.
Dermatologist Dr. Sandra Lee agrees. She uses social media all the time, but she’s very conscious of respecting her patients’ privacy and she never posts without the subject’s consent.
Dr. Stork concludes that “You get black-out drunk and if the worst thing that happens is you get a picture posted on social media, you’re getting off lucky.” And, Areva adds, don’t post pictures of another person that you wouldn’t want posted of you.