..that’s the message, as far as patients go, that is. The British Medical Association (BMA) has issued a clear warning to doctors: they should not accept Facebook requests from patients.
In today’s world of social networking, many doctors, nurses and medical students use social media – including Facebook, Twitter and blogs – with no problems. But the BMA recommends they adopt conservative privacy settings and declare any conflicts of interest when they post online. This is especially so when they invite patients as friends. The dangers of breaching confidentiality, damaging their professionalism and risking the doctor-patient relationship are too great, BMA says.
I do feel there is substance in this warning. All too often, its too easy discussing personal medical details with an online friend, not realising that, even with privacy settings on, such details may be accessible to others.
Even with Facebook accounts set up between only doctors, many have been disclosing sensitive medical information – and even mocking patients – on Facebook. The NSW Medical Board in Australia has cautioned one doctor for making “flippant and derogatory” comments, and warned others to “think twice” before disclosing patient details on social networking sites.The NSW president of the Australian Medical Association was astonished that doctors posted patient information on Facebook.
Maybe its time that medical students be lectured on the inappropriate use of social media..