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HEALTHCARE PRIVACY

March 31, 2010

The Washington Post delves into the ethical and professional questions arising over the online presence of mental health practitioners and their consumption of patients' online data in the course of treatment. The proliferation of publicly available patient data on social networks, blogs and elsewhere is raising new questions about the provider-patient relationship. "We are just beginning to understand what ethical issues the Internet is raising," says Stephen Behnke, ethics director for the American Psychological Association. Some therapists consider the Internet a valuable treatment tool, saying, "You could almost make the argument that it's negligent not to search online...," while others are skeptical. "To write rules that allow our field to grow and develop and yet prevent [patient] harm at the same time: That's the challenge," Behnke says. (Registration may be required to access this story.)
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