Establishing an ethically strong practice is one of the most important factors as a reputable mental healthcare professional. Patient confidentiality is the law. Therefore, it establishes a sense of trust in the patient-to-health-provider relationship. In today’s digital world, sometimes it can be a bit difficult to navigate these mental health practice relationships. Read on for four tips that mental health providers should follow in order to establish strong ethical policies.
Avoid Social Media
At the click of a button, we can instantly connect with people over the internet. This can be a good thing with friends and family. However, it is not appropriate in the case of a patient-health-provider relationship. At no point should a mental healthcare provider be accepting a patient’s friend request. It is unethical. This blurs the lines of the relationship. Additionally, this creates confidentiality issues. If friended by a patient, explain to them at the next appointment why an online friendship is not allowed.
Be Careful with Patient Communication
Another area to be careful with in the ethics world is patient communication. The safest way to communicate with a patient is during office appointments. Emails and text messaging are not necessarily confidential. Also, it leaves providers open to getting messages at all hours. In addition, it creates pressure for the provider to reply to messages even if the office is closed. Therefore, the best policy is to give patients the after-hours number. This is in case they need to speak with someone who is on-call.
Avoid Search Engines
Another tip for mental healthcare professionals is to stay away from search engines. Therefore, providers should not be Googling their patients to try and learn more information. This can jeopardize the trust of a client. It harms the relationship. Providers should not seek more information on their clients via the internet.
Maintain Client Confidentiality
Finally, the main objective of ethical policies is to maintain patient confidentiality. Create an environment where your patients know that whatever they tell you stays in the office.
Establishing a mental healthcare practice based on a foundation of strong ethics is extremely important. Unfortunately, sometimes issues can arise where ethics come into question. Bowne Barry & Barry have a lot of experience when it comes to legal defense for mental healthcare practices. For more information about the services we provide, contact us today.