NStarz

Ohio State c/o 2016
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Sooo...I want to start a vet school blog, methinks. Mostly as a way to keep my family and friends apprised of my goings on when I'm at vet school. Are there any privacy laws I need to be aware of? I know that I should keep things vague and not use identifying details of the owners. But can I talk about the pets (in specific terms)? If I'm not talking about human patients--do I need to worry about HIPPA? Also, can I talk about experiences/patients I saw as a tech? Or would that cause me to be liable with the hospital (again, being as vague as possible, no identifying details, changing breeds, no doctors' names, etc.)?

Basically, what I am asking is can I say: saw a puppy vomiting one time. We thought is was parvo, but it was really an awful case of roundworms. Some breeders can be so stupid. (Or something to that effect).

Thanks!
 

bunnity

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Check with your school. They should have a policy about what is okay and not okay to share on the internet.

HIPAA does not apply to vet practices.
 
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NStarz

NStarz

Ohio State c/o 2016
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Check with your school. They should have a policy about what is okay and not okay to share on the internet.

HIPAA does not apply to vet practices.

I figured this part, just double checking. Thanks bunnity!
 
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NStarz

NStarz

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This is in Ohio's student handbook. I don't know what it means.

Posting material relating to any client, patient, College owned or research animal in any form to any public or social networking site is forbidden....Students are required to maintain and respect client and patient confidentiality as well as respecting the dignity of all animals and their owners.


Does that mean I can't blog at all?? :(
 

Fly Racing

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I would ask osu directly. Their policy is to cover themselves and YOU from legal issues. Even without hippa, it is still illegal to give out patient info without consent. I'm guessing you can blog all you want as long as you don't name names or describe how to do vet work in detail.
 

bunnity

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This is in Ohio's student handbook. I don't know what it means.

Posting material relating to any client, patient, College owned or research animal in any form to any public or social networking site is forbidden....Students are required to maintain and respect client and patient confidentiality as well as respecting the dignity of all animals and their owners.


Does that mean I can't blog at all?? :(
Agreed, super ambiguous :(
 

OH Bunny Girl

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Maybe you would have to do it super anonymously? Like a made up identity for you at Fake State Univ? So you can still write about your experiences but not link them back to the school?
 
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NStarz

NStarz

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Maybe you would have to do it super anonymously? Like a made up identity for you at Fake State Univ? So you can still write about your experiences but not link them back to the school?
That would be ideal, but I do want my friends and family to know about my blog, so I would most likely link it to my facebook. Track facebook to blog = knowledge of what school I attend. Blech. Why is this so complicated.
 

LetItSnow

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This is in Ohio's student handbook. I don't know what it means.

Posting material relating to any client, patient, College owned or research animal in any form to any public or social networking site is forbidden....Students are required to maintain and respect client and patient confidentiality as well as respecting the dignity of all animals and their owners.


Does that mean I can't blog at all?? :(
You're going to have to ask your school. Our social media policy is a bit vague. One thing it is specific about is that we can't discuss cases, even if we strip identifying information (the concern being that stripping identifiers may not be sufficient; if you discuss the case particulars that may be enough for someone to recognize it).

Your school can't prohibit you from blogging and talking about your vet school experience; but they can require you to do it without discussing specific cases, regardless of how much you think you've sanitized the information.

I feel like here at UMN they're pretty reasonable about letting common sense rule, and then dealing with the occasional screw-ups without getting overly dictatorial about things.
 

nohika

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That would be ideal, but I do want my friends and family to know about my blog, so I would most likely link it to my facebook. Track facebook to blog = knowledge of what school I attend. Blech. Why is this so complicated.
Maybe send them an email with the link?

I think if you meld cases together and make it so that they can't track the case to any particular case, it might be okay. That's what I've seen other vets do.
 

LetItSnow

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That would be ideal, but I do want my friends and family to know about my blog, so I would most likely link it to my facebook. Track facebook to blog = knowledge of what school I attend. Blech. Why is this so complicated.
One thing to keep in mind is that more and more employers are wanting to see your Facebook page before they'll hire you. In my ideal world, they wouldn't look at it at all, because it's none of their business. In my compromise world, I'd agree to friend someone from HR who could look at whatever I've got out there. In the real world, many employers are actually asking for your username/password (which is a complete violation of FB's terms of service for you to give to them, but that's another issue) and looking through it on their own. It's absurdly invasive. So you have to decide where you fall on the "I just need a job" vs. "I'm going to stick up for my privacy rights" spectrum. Unfortunately, with more and more employers doing that, you're getting less and less room to stand up for your privacy.

So. That's a long rant (because employer practices like that REALLY piss me off), but the point is: I wouldn't do what you're suggesting because it may come back to haunt you.

On the flip side ... there are lots of blogs out there with people discussing cases they've seen. If you are doing it in a professional manner that doesn't reflect poorly on the school/hospital, generally doesn't identify people, and doesn't openly disparage the clients, odds are good nobody's ever going to give you grief, even if it technically violates some school policy.

Just gotta decide how you wanna roll - flagrant and willful disregard for the school policy with the fairly low possibility of it causing trouble for you, or toe the line to sleep better at night. :)
 

Psorophoraferox

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One thing to keep in mind is that more and more employers are wanting to see your Facebook page before they'll hire you. In my ideal world, they wouldn't look at it at all, because it's none of their business. In my compromise world, I'd agree to friend someone from HR who could look at whatever I've got out there. In the real world, many employers are actually asking for your username/password (which is a complete violation of FB's terms of service for you to give to them, but that's another issue) and looking through it on their own. It's absurdly invasive.
Saw a few articles about that recently, and it makes me furious. Even though I don't talk about much on Facebook other than my cats, how awesome guacamole is, and how much biochem is stressing me out, having a potential employer insist on scouring my wall/photos/etc. as a condition of offering employment? Doesn't sound like an environment in which I'd want to work anyway, unless I were absolutely, completely, painted-into-a-corner, take-the-job-or-lose-my-house/electricity/cats desperate for money. :thumbdown:

/ soapbox
 

LetItSnow

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Saw a few articles about that recently, and it makes me furious. Even though I don't talk about much on Facebook other than my cats, how awesome guacamole is, and how much biochem is stressing me out, having a potential employer insist on scouring my wall/photos/etc. as a condition of offering employment? Doesn't sound like an environment in which I'd want to work anyway, unless I were absolutely, completely, painted-into-a-corner, take-the-job-or-lose-my-house/electricity/cats desperate for money. :thumbdown:

/ soapbox
Preaching to the choir. I wouldn't want to work for an employer like that, either. But as more and more employers do it, your options get more and more limited. And sooner or later, you need to pay rent.

Good reason to be a practice owner?
 
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NStarz

NStarz

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Thanks for the advice guys. My best bet is probably to aim for anonymity. I figure I really don't have to worry about cases until 4th year anyway.
 

Minnerbelle

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I'd say just wait until you're in school before you get all worked up about it. I'm sure they'll explain it during orientation if it's a big deal. Some schools are super strict about this stuff, while others don't care all that much. If I had to venture a guess, the way I would interpret the wording of the OSU handbook is that they don't want you blogging/posting about the animals you encounter while in school. Or at least that's what I would assume until it's made clear to you. You can totally blog about orientation, things you're learning, what exams are coming up, practicing a physical exam on your own dog at home or whatever... Just not about where your cadavers come from (or any pictures, descriptions of them), things you do with teaching animals to learn clinical skills, anything going on with client animals. At least at CSU we were told we can take pictures of teaching animals, but we were not to post them ever. Even if it was just an animal restrained in a humane and standard manner. Apparently they've had multiple incidences of students going to the media/press with exposes about "inhumane" use of animals at vet schools in the past (totally unwarranted) so they're just cautious. After hearing about the jejuno-rope incident at some school this year for anatomy, I'm not sure that I can blame some schools for being a bit wary. Sure, most of us have good sound professional judgment and wouldn't post anything funky... but all it takes is one student saying/doing something stupid, or one reader to make a huge deal out of something innocuous, to create a PR nightmare. And with some vigilante groups targeting vet schools nowadays, I don't think it's a bad idea to be careful... especially if you have self-identifying info in your blog.
 

LetItSnow

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At least at CSU we were told we can take pictures of teaching animals, but we were not to post them ever.
Just to emphasize MB's point about waiting and talking to your school ... here at UMN they don't seem to care much if we take/post pictures of teaching animals (like our dairy herd, or the horses, or whatever). They're far more concerned with protecting the privacy of hospital clients. That pic I posted of my wife shoulder deep in the stomach of one of our cows wouldn't (apparently) be ok at CSU - but is acceptable here.
 

Minnerbelle

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Just to emphasize MB's point about waiting and talking to your school ... here at UMN they don't seem to care much if we take/post pictures of teaching animals (like our dairy herd, or the horses, or whatever). They're far more concerned with protecting the privacy of hospital clients. That pic I posted of my wife shoulder deep in the stomach of one of our cows wouldn't (apparently) be ok at CSU - but is acceptable here.
yeah, some schools are super laid back about it. I think it really depends on how many psycho nutjobs they've encountered in the past. There are some youtube vids from some of the schools that even I find a lil bit irksome, but apparently the school admin's okay with it (or they don't know about it...). We were specifically told with our fistulated cow that we could def not post pictures. But I know some schools that have their fistulated cows out for the public to explore at their open house events! Obviously these schools are not nearly as paranoid.
 

PetPony

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UGA had them at the open house..
 

nordicat

Mizzou c/o 2016
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Preaching to the choir. I wouldn't want to work for an employer like that, either. But as more and more employers do it, your options get more and more limited. And sooner or later, you need to pay rent.

Good reason to be a practice owner?
Thankfully, there's a law in the works to prevent employers from asking for Facebook account access! :D
 
Feb 8, 2011
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I opted to make my blog private. No one can see it who I haven't invited. I started by blogging about cases and experiences with changed names, breeds, details, no location info, never saying anything overly critical, etc., but when my mom asked, "are you sure your work would be completely okay with this, if some client recognized themselves in your blog and was upset?", I realized the answer was no, and I didn't want to jeopardize my job. So I share my experiences with friends and family. You can always unveil it all later if you want to. I don't share it on FB, obviously, but many people are set to receive an email when I do a new post.