Thursday, October 25, 2012

Training Urged for Residents on Pitfalls of Social-Media Use

When it comes to Internet usage and social media, the line of professionalism can become blurred between patients and physicians. Patients expect being able to e-mail their physicians about medical information, and relationships among physicians now have the ability to cross new boundaries via social media.

The AMA policy on Professionalism in the Use of Social Media suggests separating personal online content from professional online content. The policy states, “When using the Internet for social networking, physicians should use privacy settings to safeguard personal information and content to the extent possible, but should realize that privacy settings are not absolute and that once on the Internet, content is likely there permanently.” AMA’s policy on social media also suggests using the privacy features within social media platforms, but warns that the privacy features are not absolute and recommends that physicians manually monitor their online persona as well.

There are many concerns that can arise with Internet usage and online professionalism. Liability issues with e-mails, privacy and confidentiality problems with social media, and even academic pitfalls among psychiatric trainees can all impact psychiatrists. A task force report in the September Academic Psychiatry addresses these issues and gives recommendations for psychiatric educators on how to teach trainees about online professionalism.  Read coverage of this issue in Psychiatric News here and here.



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