‘Doctors need social media guidance’

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The General Medical Council should produce a new section on social media in its official ethical guidance to doctors the Medical Protection Society has urged.

According to E-Health Insider, the warning follows the recent GMC open consultation on guidance for Good Medical Practise.

In response, the Medical Protection Society said social media websites like Facebook raised growing concerns for doctors, with an increased risk of releasing sensitive information. A concise set of guidelines should be formed to tackle the problem, the society said.

Dr Nick Clements, head of medical services at MPS, said doctors had gotten into difficulties for posting confidential or inappropriate comments on social media websites.

“Whilst social media present opportunities for doctors to network, engage with the public and get involved in public health discussions, there are potential pitfalls that doctors need to be aware of,” he said.

Posting inappropriate comments or describing a patient’s care on social media platforms could lead to a “breach of confidentially”, both damaging the doctor’s reputation and harming the doctor-patient relationship.

“It is all too easy for boundaries between our professional and private lives to become blurred,” he said.

Doctors needed to be reminded that the same standards of professionalism and confidentiality applied to all mediums of communication.

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