The American Medical Association has recently issued a set of guidelines for physicians on how to use online social media tools. The whole document looks like a list of common sense points, but oftentimes they’re so vague as to be next to useless. Unless you’ve never had an inkling that “[p]hysicians must recognize that actions online and content posted may negatively affect their reputations among patients and colleagues,” then perhaps the internet is not for you.
Nevertheless, here are the new AMA guidelines:
(a) Physicians should be cognizant of standards of patient privacy and confidentiality that must be maintained in all environments, including online, and must refrain from posting identifiable patient information online.
(b) When using the Internet for social networking, physicians should use privacy settings to safeguard personal information and content to the extent possible, but should realize that privacy settings are not absolute and that once on the Internet, content is likely there permanently. Thus, physicians should routinely monitor their own Internet presence to ensure that the personal and professional information on their own sites and, to the extent possible, content posted about them by others, is accurate and appropriate.
(c) If they interact with patients on the Internet, physicians must maintain appropriate boundaries of the patient-physician relationship in accordance with professional ethical guidelines just, as they would in any other context.
(d) To maintain appropriate professional boundaries physicians should consider separating personal and professional content online.
(e) When physicians see content posted by colleagues that appears unprofessional they have a responsibility to bring that content to the attention of the individual, so that he or she can remove it and/or take other appropriate actions. If the behavior significantly violates professional norms and the individual does not take appropriate action to resolve the situation, the physician should report the matter to appropriate authorities.
(f) Physicians must recognize that actions online and content posted may negatively affect their reputations among patients and colleagues, may have consequences for their medical careers (particularly for physicians-in-training and medical students), and can undermine public trust in the medical profession.
Link: New AMA Policy Helps Guide Physicians’ Use of Social Media …
(hat tip: ScienceRoll)