New guidance from the British Medical Association (BMA) recommends that physicians "politely refuse" a Facebook friend request from a patient, says an American Medical News article.
Many medical associations in the United States, including the American Medical Association (AMA), have advised physicians to exercise caution when using social media, but they have avoided issuing steadfast rules. However, BMA's guidance makes "clear-cut recommendations" that physicians and medical students not accept Facebook friend requests from current or former patients because of the increased likelihood that the relationship could become inappropriate. The advice was part of a booklet BMA produced about physicians and social media conduct, says the article.
The Ohio State Medical Association (OSMA) issued guidance to members more than a year ago after it received several requests from physicians who wanted advice on how to handle unsolicited social media friend requests from patients. Similar to policy adopted by AMA, the guidance issued by OSMA encourages physicians to consider the ethical and legal boundaries that have the potential of being crossed by each online relationship. One recommendation is to create separate profiles for personal and professional use.
OSMA plans to revisit the issue in coming months to revise its guidance to include warnings to medical students and residents to keep their personal profile pages clear of content that could be deemed unprofessional to potential employers, the article says.
APTA offer members information on interacting with patients and clients in social media and other social media tips and best practices.
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