AMA Cautions Physicians/Medical Students Against Social Networking

The American Medical Association (AMA) has asked physicians who write blogs or use networking sites like Facebook, Twitter to be responsible in their communications. Additionally, it has asked them to routinely monitor their online presence, use security settings to limit access to personal information and abide by patient privacy laws. Physicians have been asked to be cognizant of their obligations to patients and not do anything to jeopardize patient privacy or confidentiality.

AMA Board of Trustees Member Mary Anne McCaffree, MD said

Using social media can help physicians create a professional presence online, express their personal views and foster relationships, but it can also create new challenges for the patient-physician relationship.

Additionally, physicians have also been cautioned against having non clinical communications with patients to avoid any issues with interaction that may arise from knowing each other privately.

Clifford Moy, MD, a psychiatrist from Austin and a delegate for the Texas Medical Assn pointed out that ‘It is part of a physician’s professional obligation to monitor the Internet for their own content, as well as content posted about them or colleagues’.

The CEJA report advised that

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

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