Thursday, September 27, 2012

Steering Residents Around Internet Perils

The Internet has revolutionized the way psychiatrists and other physicians communicate with patients and each other, but it is replete with obstacles and pitfalls that can trip up unsuspecting clinicians. A task force of the American Association of Directors of Psychiatric Residency Training has developed a curriculum, described in the new issue of Academic Psychiatry, that uses vignettes to outline principles that faculty can use to foster discussion on these critical issues with their residents. "The evidence of unprofessional behavior among physicians and the complexity of the potential issues raised with Internet use in psychiatry suggest that psychiatric residents, educators, and administrators need explicit teaching about potential clinical, ethical, and legal pitfalls of Internet use," the task force emphasizes, noting that "trainees accustomed to continual use of interactive technologies...may overlook boundary and other professionalism issues if they are not made explicit."

The curriculum's vignettes and discussions focus on nine key issues-—liability; confidentiality and privacy; psychotherapy and boundaries; safety; mandated reporting; libel; conflicts of interest; "netiquette"; and professionalism remediation.

The Academic Psychiatry article can be accessed here. Read more about psychiatrists' use of the Internet and social media in Psychiatric News here and here.



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