The American Medical Association (AMA) adopted a policy on professionalism when using social media in late 2010. The policy, according to the AMA, is aimed at helping physicians to “maintain a positive online presence and preserve the integrity of the patient-physician relationship.”
Among the policy’s recommendations:
- Refrain from posting identifiable patient information online.
- Use privacy settings to safeguard personal information and content to the fullest extent possible on social networking sites. But realize that privacy settings are not absolute and internet content is likely permanent.
- Routinely monitor your Internet presence to ensure that your personal and professional information on your sites and those operated by others is accurate and appropriate.
- Maintain appropriate boundaries of the patient-physician relationship when interacting with patients online and ensure that patient privacy and confidentiality is maintained.
- Consider separating personal and professional content online.
- If you see content posted by colleagues that appears unprofessional, you are responsible for bringing the content to the attention of the individual who posted it, so that he or she can remove it 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,” according to the AMA. Those authorities include local medical boards, state or federal lawmakers and regulators or hospital boards, according to the AMA.
- Understand that your online actions (including the content you post) can negatively impact your reputation among patients and colleagues, and could have negative consequences for your medical career.
For complete guidelines:
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