17 November 2009
Q. I use a digital camera in my practice and frequently use these images when lecturing. Do I need specific consent of each patient, every time I use the pictures?
Digital cameras have transformed the ease (and cost) of including clinical photographs and intra-oral close-up views of individual teeth, within the records. The patient's specific consent should be sought (and recorded) if the nature of the image would allow them to be identifies from it. Where no such identification would be possible, specific consent is not required although the patient should be asked, as a matter of courtesy, if they are happy for the picture(s) to be taken for purposes that have been explained to them.
It may be helpful to create a written policy on the practice's use of clinical images, a copy of which can then be given to the patients concerned. Here the record should confirm that the patient was given a copy of the policy. However, if the lecture patient withholds their permission, their image shouldn't be used beyond its original clinical use.