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Doctor Patient Discussion on Facebook: Banned

There is an interesting article in E-Health Europe about how patients try to contact doctors on Facebook, the popular social networking site, and how doctors shouldn’t respond to them. In my “Medicine and Web 2.0” university credit course, we cover this important issue several times and I try to provide students with useful pieces of advice about how to avoid such problems.

The Medical Defence Union said it was aware of a number of cases where patients have attempted to proposition doctors by sending them an unsolicited message on Facebook or similar sites.

The medical defence body said it would be “wholly inappropriate” to respond to a patient making an advance in such a way.

Dr Emma Cuzner, MDU medico-legal adviser, said the pitfalls posed to doctors using social networking sites and inadvertently breaching patient confidentiality had already been well documented but the dangers of patients using the sites to approach doctors were less well publicised.

In an anonymised case highlighted by the MDU a female GP was asked out for a drink by a patient as she left the surgery. When she declined the patient contacted the doctor via Facebook and sent her a bunch of her favourite flowers which he had found out about from her freely available Facebook page.

5 Comments Post a comment
  1. Well, I guess if you decide to put your profile on Facebook, then you have to take the consequences … if people don’t accept the way Facebook erodes the historically contingent demarcation lines between public-private, public-professional and private-professional. etc. then they’d better stay away from it.

    December 3, 2009
    • I agree, its getting too much into the doctor’s personal life, and/or basically making him feel like he is on call all the time, working 24/7. Its as if you live with someone you work with. Not a good combo.

      December 11, 2009
  2. I think what people mistake here in anonymity for privacy. They are not the same. Just because you can go on the internet as an unkown, doesn’t mean people won’t eventually know something about you – even if they don’t necessarily know who you are.

    December 18, 2009
  3. Hey all,

    I’m currently doing research about the general opinion of the iPad. What do you think about it?

    It seems like not everyone is thrilled about the iPad. They say the iPad has been hyped too much by Apple and it’s not nearly as revolutionary as they make us believe it to be.
    On the other hand there people can’t wait to get their hands on it.

    What do you think about the iPad and it’s features? I will collect some of the input and write a nice article about it!

    March 12, 2010

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  1. 2009 in Numbers and Entries « ScienceRoll

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