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The AMA’s Policy On Professionalism In The Use Of Social Media

A new policy on professionalism in the use of social media was [recently] adopted by the American Medical Association (AMA). The AMA Office of Media Relations was kind enough to share a copy of the policy:

The Internet has created the ability for medical students and physicians to communicate and share information quickly and to reach millions of people easily. Participating in social networking and other similar Internet opportunities can support physicians’ personal expression, enable individual physicians to have a professional presence online, foster collegiality and camaraderie within the profession, provide opportunity to widely disseminate public health messages and other health communication. Social networks, blogs, and other forms of communication online also create new challenges to the patient-physician relationship. Physicians should weigh a number of considerations when maintaining a presence online:

(a)  Physicians should be cognizant of standards of patient privacy and confidentiality that must be maintained in all environments, including online, and must refrain from posting identifiable patient information online.

(b)  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. Thus, physicians should routinely monitor their own Internet presence to ensure that the personal and professional information on their own sites and, to the extent possible, content posted about them by others, is accurate and appropriate. Read more »

*This blog post was originally published at 33 Charts*

Doctors And Work-Life Boundaries: Keeping An EMR In Its Place

I’ve had a longstanding policy in my office that routine prescription refills will only be addressed during regular office hours. No evenings; no weekends; if you need a refill of your long-term chronic medications, you need to call during regularly scheduled office hours, five days a week. You can leave a message if you like, but you should not expect us to call in the medication until the office is open.

The main reason for this policy has always been medical: prescription medication requires appropriate monitoring. From the moment I hung out my shingle, I’ve made it my habit always to write enough refills on your medication to last until the next time I need to see you. In all likelihood if you need a refill, what you really need is a visit.

The logical reason for the policy is the need to consult the medical record before authorizing refills. And when those records are contained on bits of dead trees on shelves in the office, there’s no way I can access them if I’m not physically there. I’ve been known to drive out to the office at decidedly odd hours for the express purpose of consulting those records so that I can provide appropriate care to my patients. That has always been the bottom line for me, and always will. Read more »

*This blog post was originally published at Musings of a Dinosaur*

Professional Boundaries: Is It Okay For A Friend To Treat A Friend?

I just finished reading Dr. Gary Small’s book, The Naked Lady Who Stood On Her Head.

In the final chapter of the book, Dr. Small talks about his mentor, friend, and father figure who’s mentioned throughout the book. The mentor approaches him on the golf course, where they meet to talk, and says he needs psychotherapy and Small is the man to do it. The author is surprised, hesitant, and a bit uncomfortable with the demand (it comes as more than a request.) His wife likens it to the need for a plumber or a dentist, and Dr. Small takes on the task. The mentor calls all the shots: Where the meetings will be, what pastry they will eat, the form of his payment. The author initially misses the diagnosis and uses this as an example of how one can be blinded.

So is it okay for a friend to treat a friend? Read more »

*This blog post was originally published at Shrink Rap*

Patient-Doctor Facebook “Friends” Could Be A HIPAA Violation

Should you friend your doctor on Facebook? It’s a question that’s gaining increasing relevance as Facebook increases its social networking dominance. I’ve touched upon the issue in the past. So has the New England Journal of Medicine.

Washington, DC, physician Katherine Chretian gives her take on the issue in a recent USA Today op-ed. She is an expert of the Facebook-medicine intersection, having authored a JAMA study on the issue.

She says, no, doctors should not be friending their patients:

Having a so-called dual relationship with a patient — that is, a financial, social or professional relationship in addition to the therapeutic relationship — can lead to serious ethical issues and potentially impair professional judgment. We need professional boundaries to do our job well.

Furthermore, there’s the little matter of patient privacy and HIPAA. I wasn’t aware of this, but simply becoming Facebook friends with patients can infringe upon uncertain ground. Read more »

*This blog post was originally published at KevinMD.com*

Latest Interviews

IDEA Labs: Medical Students Take The Lead In Healthcare Innovation

It’s no secret that doctors are disappointed with the way that the U.S. healthcare system is evolving. Most feel helpless about improving their work conditions or solving technical problems in patient care. Fortunately one young medical student was undeterred by the mountain of disappointment carried by his senior clinician mentors…

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How To Be A Successful Patient: Young Doctors Offer Some Advice

I am proud to be a part of the American Resident Project an initiative that promotes the writing of medical students residents and new physicians as they explore ideas for transforming American health care delivery. I recently had the opportunity to interview three of the writing fellows about how to…

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Latest Book Reviews

Book Review: Is Empathy Learned By Faking It Till It’s Real?

I m often asked to do book reviews on my blog and I rarely agree to them. This is because it takes me a long time to read a book and then if I don t enjoy it I figure the author would rather me remain silent than publish my…

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The Spirit Of The Place: Samuel Shem’s New Book May Depress You

When I was in medical school I read Samuel Shem s House Of God as a right of passage. At the time I found it to be a cynical yet eerily accurate portrayal of the underbelly of academic medicine. I gained comfort from its gallows humor and it made me…

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Eat To Save Your Life: Another Half-True Diet Book

I am hesitant to review diet books because they are so often a tangled mess of fact and fiction. Teasing out their truth from falsehood is about as exhausting as delousing a long-haired elementary school student. However after being approached by the authors’ PR agency with the promise of a…

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