Could A Website Error Cost You Your Practice?

 

Several former patients are suing St. Louis board certified plastic surgeon Dr. Michele Koo for allegedly posting nude photos of them on the internet.

Is it time for a website audit? ?By now, many of you have heard the story of former patients suing St. Louis board certified plastic surgeon Dr. Michele Koo for allegedly posting nude photos of them on the internet. ?The women, former breast augmentation or tummy tuck patients, are suing for?invasion of privacy, including counts of unreasonable publicity, breach of fiduciary duty and wrongful commercial appropriation and exploitation of plaintiff's image and medical information, according to ABC News.

Nude Before and After Photos of Patients on Dr. Michele Koo's Plastic Surgery Website
Photo courtesy of KSDK.com


As seen on?ABC Good Morning America, according to Dr. Koo, the patients gave her practice permission to use their unidentifiable before and after photos on her website. ?However, due to a technical issue from her previous web-host, the nude before and after photos were associated with the patients' names and show up as results during a Google search. ?Dr. Koo has personally apologized to the patients, ensured that this issue will not happen again but it is still unclear whether or not this will hurt her practice as the story continues to unfold. ?Regardless of the outcome of the lawsuit, this situation will be expensive to settle and is embarrassing for the plastic surgeon and practice.

You've worked hard to establish a plastic surgery practice?and to have it destroyed by an overeager marketing firm or employee is unfathomable but entirely possible. ?As we all know, before and after photos are proof of your skills as a plastic surgeon. ?For many patients, seeing great before and after photos is the tipping point for them to call and schedule an appointment. ?So how can you protect yourself and your practice?
  • Make sure you have clear and specific patient consent forms and that your office staff and marketing team are strictly adhering to their guidelines
  • Is your website firm or marketing team HIPAA and medical savvy? ?Not all marketing is created equal and a marketing firm or website host who is not familiar with the standards and rules of the medical community could really harm your practice
  • If your marketing is conducted internally, be sure to keep photos anonymous. ?Change your file names, do not include patient names in captions. ?Often, as in the case of Dr. Koo, although the name of a photo does not appear as a caption on the page, if it is added as an "alt tag," search engines such as Google, Bing and Yahoo will read the names as such and will pull them up as photo results
No doubt there are lawyers nationwide looking through plastic surgeon's websites for similar cases. ?If you are unsure of whether or not your practice is safe, a website audit may be useful in this case. ?An experienced external team will look over your website, coding and content to ensure you are not at risk of legal action due to online technicalities.