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Can I Communicate By Text Message With My Patients?

While text messaging has become a common, almost universal, method of communication, the use of text messages presents legal complications that may far outweigh the ease and practicality of the medium. The use of text messages by practitioners may present a HIPAA violation if patient information is disclosed in the body of the text, even if it does not begin that way.

Even if a smartphone is encrypted, there is ultimately no guarantee that people other than the intended recipient are actually viewing the text. As with other forms of communication, practitioners must be circumspect with the content of any text message sent to a patient. For example, a patient may view a doctor’s follow-up text as to the patient’s condition as inappropriate conduct with potential legal consequences.

While there may have been no harmful intent, the practitioner must consider the implications of the content of all text messages. This can be difficult considering the ease and immediacy of text messaging.

If you are a medical or healthcare practitioner and worried about the legality of issues surrounding your patients’ confidentiality, feel free to contact New Jersey Attorney Rich West at 973-377-0007 in order to keep both you and your patients safe.

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