– L. Arthalia Cravin
If you’ve been to a doctor or dentist lately then you probably already know that part of the patient intake process now includes taking your picture. I recently questioned the folks at the Amarillo College Dental Hygiene Clinic about their new picture- taking procedure. My question to the folks at Amarillo College was on the issue of invasion of privacy over photos of my face and inside my open mouth. Well, the response that I got was a primer on intra-and inter-oral photography as part of current dental practice. Another person had the same picture-taking experience at a regular doctor’s office when the staff told her, “Now, we need to take your picture.”
For years patients have been identified at doctor and dentist offices by an in-person appearance. Doctors and dentists knew patients from the doctor-patient relationship. But, it seems that things are a-changing—so much so that social security numbers, x-rays, your real face, and other forms of patient identifications are no longer sufficient. In the case of a dental office, I especially wondered what a photo of my open mouth could possibly reveal that an x-ray could not. I was so suspicious of the “new photo” ID for patients that I went and read the Patriot Act to see if there was some type of “Big Brother, we’re watching you” activity going on.
I’m still not comfortable with photos being taken at doctor’s offices. But that is the new trend, or, requirement. I don’t even like for the DMV to take my picture, let alone some dental assistant showing up in my face with a camera. When I responded to Amarillo College about the new patient photo ID requirements, I suggested to them that if in fact patients are giving consent to photos by signing the usual consent to treatment forms, that, at a minimum, the new photo ID requirements should be highlighted in bold print. And, I suggested that each office should post large signs letting patients know that their photos will the taken as part of patient identification. And, in the case of dental treatment, that photos, in addition to regular x-rays will be taken inside the patient’s mouth. This seems fair, and would produce informed consent rather than what I call, consent by stealth.
Copyright 2012 – L. Arthalia Cravin. All rights Reserved. No part of this commentary may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, or otherwise, without written permission from the author.