Medical Boards Address Social Media Use by Physicians

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At this year’s annual meeting of the Federation of State Medical Boards (FSMB), new policy guidelines were adopted on the appropriate use of social media and social networking sites by physicians.


“Digital media has enormous potential for doctors and patients, allowing us more opportunities to share information and establish meaningful professional relationships,” said FSMB President and CEO Humayun Chaudhry, DO. “However, physicians also need to be aware of how to maintain the same professional and ethical standards in their online activity as they do in the rest of their practice. Failing to do so can hurt patients and physicians’ careers.”


A recent study found that 92 percent of state medical boards have received reports of violations of online professionalism.


The model guidelines recommend that physicians:


Restrict online interaction with patients to the physician-patient relationship—and never in personal social networking or social media websites;

Protect patient privacy and confidentiality at all times; and,

Be aware that information posted on social networking sites may be widely disseminated, and possibly taken out of context.



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