A Photojournalist's Advice to First Responders

Jim Dean, a newspaper reporter and photojournalist in Cumming, Ga., writing for EMS1.com offers advice for first responders dealing with media at an accident scene. Here's Point 1:

Let’s get to the elephant in the room. Or in this case, the HIPAA. I am not a covered provider. I have no HIPAA restrictions. You, however, do. 

Your basic HIPAA obligation when it comes to the press is very simple. Don't divulge any patient medical information to a journalist. Don’t discuss patient specifics within hearing or recording distance, at least not in great detail. Don’t write notes where they can be read. If you have a clipboard with medical information, turn it over so it can’t be seen in a photograph. 

Your HIPAA obligation does not, however, require you to stop me or others from taking images at the scene.

Dean has four other tips—all good, practical stuff that should be tacked onto the board at every firehouse, police station, and medic-unit break room.