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?
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…..”