To post or not to post: That is the question.

Social media is here to stay it seems.  The impact of social media on everything from dating to presidential elections is, without question, still unfolding.  As the influence of bloggers, Facebookers, and Tweeters continues to grow, concerns are being raised regarding how to best establish reasonable ethical guidelines for posting by members of a few of the more tradition-laden  professions.

In particular, social media poses difficulties for the medical profession given confidentiality regulations and guidelines for doctor –patient interactions.  A recent article in American Medical News, examines how medical boards are now monitoring the activities of doctors.  Additionally it looks at the consequences of crossing professional boundaries and what might trigger an investigation into a doctor’s online activities.

A few of the activities that could draw the attention of medical boards include:

  • Posting pictures of patients online without their permission,
  • posting misleading information about clinical outcomes,
  • and inappropriately contacting patients.

According to the article, numbers show that 71% of medical boards have investigated doctors for posting questionable content online.

As social media more and more becomes the given method of information and social exchange., this becomes an increasingly important issue. Blogging, Facebook and Twitter are no longer simply how we update our status to friends.  It is a multidimensional platform that carries an enormous possibility for good.  It also has its own pitfalls given that information posted online, whether accurate or not, can continue online forever, it would seem.

As a guideline, study lead author, Ryan Greysen, MD, MHS, offers the following: “People can really do a lot to stay out of trouble by applying common sense and avoiding the trap that you can do something online you wouldn’t do in real life.”

About UMHS:

Built in the tradition of the best US universities, the University of Medicine and Health Sciences focuses on individualized student attention, small class sizes and recruiting high quality faculty. For these reasons, UMHS is quickly becoming the school of choice among Caribbean medical schools.

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