Internal medicine doctors have been using their code names to communicate, including by posting messages on Facebook about their experiences.
The practice has come under scrutiny in recent months after reports that patients were pressured to sign up to have their medical records used against them.
Some doctors have reportedly told staff they would not accept referrals from other doctors.
On Friday, The Wall Street Journal reported that internal medicine doctors were being encouraged to adopt code names for their patients, including “the code” or “the medical doctor.”
The practice is legal in New York, but the practice has not been widely practiced, the Journal said.
The Journal cited three doctors who have worked in internal medicine settings.
The medical community, which includes doctors, has also been criticized for using code names, particularly in cases where doctors have not been fully licensed.
The practices are common, and there are rules for how the doctors can use the codes.
“I can’t speak for all doctors, but if you are going to use a code name, it is your responsibility to make sure that it is legal and that it does not violate any rules,” Dr. Susan Estrich, a professor of pediatrics at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine, told the Journal.
Internal medicine has been under scrutiny for years for the misuse of medical codes, as the Journal noted.
In February, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) released a report that found doctors are increasingly using code-switching to hide medical history.
In a report on the practice, the CDC cited “a growing number of cases in which code names were used to conceal a patient’s underlying health problems, including HIV, tuberculosis, and other serious illnesses.”
The CDC report also noted that internal health care providers are increasingly relying on codes to get patients’ medical records.
In the case of internal medicine physicians, many have not obtained licenses, according to the Journal, citing internal medicine patients and doctors’ complaints.
In April, the National Board of Internal Medicine released a resolution against internal medicine physician code-name practices.
The board also urged the practice to stop code-sharing.
Internal Medicine is an umbrella term for internal medicine specialists who specialize in medical and allied disciplines.
In 2017, there were about 6,400 primary care physicians across the country, according the American Medical Association.