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Stop before you share

July 24, 2019
Patient and prescriber information should never be shared on social media.

Pharmacists and pharmacy technicians are custodians of Albertans’ personal and health information under the Health Information Act (HIA). Posting an image of a patient’s prescription on social media with any identifying information is a breach of privacy, and ACP strongly advises pharmacy professionals to not share any documents containing personal health information in this manner. If you intend to share an image of a prescription or other document, you must ensure that information that may identify a patient or prescriber is not visible.

Privacy breaches involving social media are inherently far more dangerous than many other scenarios because the information can be spread so quickly to so many individuals. Even images shared with other professionals in ‘closed’ social media circles, like a members-only group, can still leak out. The social software itself may prevent sharing outside of the group, but people can simply capture the image with a screenshot and distribute it themselves. Once an image has been released publicly on social media, there is no way to control how many thousands of unauthorized individuals might see it.

To help guide your online interactions, review our social sharing tips. If you have further questions about your responsibilities under the HIA, read our guide, and see our Link article from September 2018 describing the mandatory privacy breach reporting structure now in place in our province.