In response to recent concerns about healthcare blogging (potential privacy violations in particular), a group of bloggers got together to create the first Healthcare Blogger Code of Ethics. All health bloggers who agree to abide by the ethical principles listed in the code will be given the HBCE seal to display on their blogs. If anyone suspects the bloggers of violating that code, they can be reported to the HBCE website for further investigation.
I think this is a great step forward for health blogs – and a good reminder to respect confidentiality, transparency, and courtesy while blogging. To request a copy of the seal for your blog, please write to: firstname.lastname@example.org
The 5 principles:
- Clear representation of perspective – readers
must understand the training and overall perspective of the author of a
blog. Certainly bloggers can have opinions on subjects outside of their
training, and these opinions may be true, but readers must have a place
to look on a blog to get an idea of where this author is coming from.
This also encompasses the idea of the distinction between advertisement
and content. This does not preclude anonymous blogging, but it asks that even anonymous bloggers share the professional perspective from which they are blogging.
- Confidentiality – Medical bloggers must
respect the nature of the relationship between patient and medical
professionals and the clear need for confidentiality. All discussions
of patients must be done in a way in which patients’ identity cannot be
- Commercial Disclosure – the presence or
absence of commercial ties of the author must be made clear for the
readers. If the author is using their blog to pitch a product, it must
be clear that they are doing that. Any ties to device manufacturer
and/or pharmaceutical company ties must be clearly stated.
- Reliability of Information – citing sources when appropriate and changing inaccuracies when they are pointed out
- Courtesy – Bloggers should not engage in
personal attacks, nor should they allow their commenters to do so.
Debate and discussion of ideas is one of the major purposes of
blogging. While the ideas people hold should be criticized and even
confronted, the overall purpose is a discussion of ideas, not those who
Happy blogging!This post originally appeared on Dr. Val’s blog at RevolutionHealth.com.