The need for clear images of cutaneous conditions is more critical in dermatology than perhaps any other specialty.
A clinical image can mean the difference between a correct diagnosis and clinical error, especially in the age of teledermatology. But taking a good clear clinical image isn’t always straightforward, says Justin Finch, M.D., a dermatologic and cosmetic surgeon with the University of Connecticut Health Center in Farmington, Conn., where he serves as director of clinical photography in dermatology.
“In my practice I have 12 minutes to see a patient, render a diagnosis, take pictures, write a note and move on to the next patient. If photography is not quick and easy, I don’t do it, but you can still take quality photos,” he said.
Developing core skills in photography will not only improve the quality of your clinical images, but it could also empower you with the skills necessary to critique less than ideal photos from medical literature or other published materials.
1) CONSENT FORMS
The patient should sign a consent form for photos due to be used — or have the potential to be used — for a second opinion, teaching, education or publication. But legal opinions differ for photos intended only for medical care. In Dr. Finch’s practice, photographs intended only for direct clinical care are covered by consent-to-treat forms patients sign prior to receiving care.
When an image is intended for print publication, use a tripod if it’s Dr. Finch practical to do so, recommend Dermatology Times editors.
3) HIGH DEFINITION
Photos intended for publication must be taken in high definition (300 dpi).
See the related story: "Legal perspectives on using photography in your office"