Kiss That Baby Picture Goodbye

Things ain’t like they used to be, especially in medicine. And now comes the latest example of bureaucracy gone wild. You know those cute collages of baby pictures in your doctor’s office? Kiss them goodbye.

More and more doctors’ offices are replacing those cuddly faces with art, landscape photos or make-believe snapshots of professional baby models.

The reason: putting that picture of a baby up on a public wall is technically a violation of HIPAA — the mumbo-jumbo 15 million page law passed a few years ago to protect patient privacy. And evidently putting up a picture of your kid is a violation of patient privacy.

Dr. Dave Hnida's baby picture (credit: Dave Hnida)

Dr. Dave Hnida’s baby picture (credit: Dave Hnida)

Seriously. It is.

Violations of HIPAA can carry a $100,000 fine and other penalties, and although no doctors have been led away in handcuffs because of a smiling baby snapshot, an ever increasing number of obstetrics and pediatric practices have taken steps to stay out of trouble.

Including:

1. Removing pictures out of public view … like to the broom closet

2. Having parents sign a formal consent agreeing to allow their baby’s mugshot to be in public view. Sounds easy and logical, but a HIPAA form can be long, complex and filled with technical niceties such as specifying the exact dates the pictures will be in view.

3. Notifying new patients in the “new patient packet” that states parents must give the office freedom to share pictures of their child with others. (Do you need both parents to initial the form?)

4. Just saying the heck with it.

Some docs aren’t aware of the provision in the law that prohibits baby pictures, so you will still see some. But as more find out; be prepared for a disappearance of the “bragging wall.”

No more “oohs” and “ahhs” No more “Oh, look … how sweet.” No more “how I remember that day.”

All in all, your basic, unnecessary nightmare.

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