Appropriate Use of Social Media and Social Networking in Medical Practice. 23 The positive aspects of social
media use in physicians’ private and professional lives are
acknowledged in this guide, but it also includes warnings about the potentially severe negative consequences
of inappropriate use. In a survey of 48 state medical
boards, 92 percent ( 44) reported online-related issues,
with serious disciplinary consequences including license
restriction, suspension, or revocation occurring at more
than half of the boards ( 27 of 48 medical boards). 24 The
FSMB’s guidelines emphasize the following:
• Maintain proper online boundaries between physician
and patient, similar to any person-to-person interaction
in the hospital or office.
• Avoid any online contact with past or current patients,
particularly on social media sites with a largely personal
focus, such as Facebook.
•Establish separate personal and professional profiles on
social networking sites.
•Use different e-mail addresses for private and professional communications to avoid confusion about
individual and institutional representation.
•Report unprofessional behavior to regulatory
• Learn an employer’s social media or social networking
policy, if applicable.
•Avoid text messaging or e-mailing patients for medical purposes.
•Actively manage one’s online presence by establishing profiles on social media and professional
networking sites. This recommendation can be
considered a reminder to social media skeptics that
ignoring this technology is not the best response to
concerns about professionalism.
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