doctor on tabletIn recent years, social media has dramatically changed the way physicians can interact with patients.  But what are the guidelines your docs should following when interacting with patients on social media account like Facebook, Twitter, Google+, and YouTube?  

The Federation of State Medical Boards (FSMB) developed ethical and professional guidance with the help of The Special Committee on Ethics and Professionalism in 2011 to answer such questions.

And it’s a good thing, too.  According to a survey in the Journal of the American Medical Association, 92 percent of all medical and osteopathic boards in the U.S. have encountered complaints of online physician misconduct.  The FSMB guidelines are meant to protect physicians from unintended consequences and maintain public trust by:

  • Protecting the privacy and confidentiality of their patients
  • Avoiding requests for online medical advice
  • Acting with professionalism
  • Being forthcoming about their employment, credentials and conflicts of interest
  • Being aware that information they post online may be available to anyone, and could be misconstrued

The same survey also reported that 56 percent of medical boards have either restricted, suspended or revoked at least one physicians’ license for online missteps. State medical boards have the authority to discipline physicians for unprofessional behavior on social networking sites including, but not limited to: