Doctors and Facebook Present Ethics Challenge

Some doctor's unrestricted profiles on Facebook run the risk of violating the traditional bounds of a patient-caregiver relationship, CNN reports.

A study done by the Journal of Medical Ethics that surveyed 200 residents and fellows at a hospital in France revealed that those without a facebook profile are in the minority. Beyond that, most were sharing their full name and employer along with a picture.

The prevalence of facebook among the physicians, CNN reports, is likely related to the prevalence of the website among today's youth. These problems are hardly isolated to medicine, either, says Deven McGraw, director of the Health Privacy Project at the Center for Democracy and Technology.

"Any professional faces the same dilemma," McGraw said. "You want to share information with your friends, and yet, given the reach of Facebook, what are you comfortable sharing in a personal space that could be cast in a different light in a professional context?"

The concern, then, is not the disclosure of medical information or a breach of trust on the part of the doctor but rather the potential connection on facebook complicating or jeopardizing the relationships between patients and their caregivers.

The American Medical Association has instituted a social media policy for its members as a response. Basically, the report says to keep in mind the fact that Facebook is by no means a private means to publish things and think before posting.

While telling doctors to use common sense before sharing information on the website is certainly helpful, the same message applies to all members of the popular social network.

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This page contains a single entry by Chris Cooper published on December 18, 2010 4:25 PM.

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