This week, Rhode Island’s medical licensing board has approved guidelines for the appropriate use of social media by physicians, iHealthBeat reports. The guidelines state that physicians will be held personally and professionally accountable for any material they post on social media platforms (Krapf, ABC6 News, 10/23).
Key goals of the guidelines are to encourage physicians who use social media to protect themselves from the potential risks associated social media and ensure public trust by:
Appropriate Physician-Patient Relationship
The relationship between a physician and patient begins when an individual seeks assistance from a physician for a health-related matter, and the physician agrees to undertake diagnosis and treatment of the patient, according to the guidelines.
Examples where unintended consequences of physicians’ use of social media and social networking may undermine a proper physician-patient relationship and the public trust include:
In a 2010 survey of Executive Directors at state medical boards in the United States, 92 percent indicated that violations of online professionalism were reported in their jurisdiction. These violations included Internet use for inappropriate contact with patients (69 percent), inappropriate prescribing (63 percent), and misrepresentation of credentials or clinical outcomes (60 percent). In response to these violations, 71 percent of boards held formal disciplinary proceedings and 40 percent issued informal warnings. percent), suspension (29 percent), or revocation (21 percent) of licensure.
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