Should You “Friend” Your Doctor on Social Media?

Posted on November 27, 2015

Photo source: Flickr

Although social media has become engrained into almost every area of our life, becoming Facebook friends with your doctor may alter the traditional patient-physician relationship in ways that may be positive or negative.

In a recent AMA Journal of Ethics article, two Loyola University Chicago Medicine professors, Kayhan Parsi and Nanette Elster, analyzed the issue.

“Maintaining privacy and confidentiality are integral to the patient-health care professional relationship, since preserving patient trust is essential for competent clinical care,” Parsi and Elster said. “The use of social media in health care raises a number of issues about professional and personal boundaries, and the integrity, accountability, and trustworthiness of health care professionals.”

The article uses five case studies to highlight possible ethical and legal issues that arise with the use of social media in health care. The cases address topics such as posting work-related photos on Facebook, tweeting personal or political opinions, and Googling patients and prospective candidates for jobs. The article analyzes questions like: is it appropriate for health care professionals to friend a patient on Facebook, or even connect through LinkedIn?

“When it comes to social media it’s important for health care professionals to be aware of personal and professional boundaries. When someone reads a post, do they see it is as a statement from a physician, or an individual? These lines are easily blurred on social media,” said Parsi.

Despite the potential pitfalls of social media, Parsi and Elster also highlight benefits of social media in health care. Examples include more rapid response to public health emergencies and better communication about pharmaceutical and other recalls.

This article was adapted from the link below.

Category(s):Mental Health Professions

Source material from Psych Central

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