Can my doctor be my Facebook friend?

Can my doctor be my Facebook friend?

The doctor-patient relationship can be a close one – but in this week’s Scrubbing Up column, Dr Naeem Nazem of the MDDUS asks – can that relationship be extended into social media?

“Whether you embrace it or not, the vast majority of people use social media as part of their everyday lives.

 

Recent figures show there are a staggering 24 million – and counting – active Facebook users in the UK, while one in four people (15 million) have Twitter accounts.

 

There are undoubted benefits as social media offers a platform for doctors to network effectively, share views and develop their own knowledge and expertise.

 

For patients engaging with social media, it can educate and raise awareness by giving them greater access to healthcare information.

 

But if you would trust your doctor with your life, could you be their Facebook friend?

‘Blurring boundaries’

On the face of it, it doesn’t seem like an unreasonable question – or request.

 

However, patients interacting with their doctors on social media may inadvertently create an uncomfortable and awkward situation.

 

It also risks blurring the boundaries in the doctor-patient relationship which could impact on the quality of care they receive.

We have encountered a range of cases where doctors have sought advice from us regarding social media issues, from critical or abusive posts from patients to hate campaigns.”

Patients should consider that doctors are bound by guidelines…..”

This entry was posted in Stories in the Media on by .

About Roger Burns - retired GP

I am a retired GP and medical educator. I have supported patient participation throughout my career, and my practice, St Thomas; Surgery, has had a longstanding and active Patient Participation Group (PPG). I support the idea of Community Health Councils, although I feel they should be funded at arms length from government. I have taught GP trainees for 30 years, and been a Programme Director for GP training in Pembrokeshire 20 years. I served on the Pembrokeshire LHG and LHB for a total of 10 years. I completed an MBA in 1996, and I along with most others, never had an exit interview from any job in the NHS! I completed an MBA in 1996, and was a runner up for the Adam Smith prize for economy and efficiency in government in that year. This was owing to a suggestion (St Thomas' Mutual) that practices had incentives for saving by being allowed to buy rationed out services in the following year.

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