Advice from the AMA

April 10, 2013

In the report “Professionalism in the use of social media,” the American Medical Association offers advice for physicians.

In the report “Professionalism in the use of social media,” the American Medical Association offers advice for physicians:

  • Be aware of standards of patient privacy and confidentiality, and refrain from posting identifiable patient information online. 

  • On social networking sites, use privacy settings to safeguard personal information and content to the extent possible, but realize that such settings are not absolute and that once on the Internet, content likely is there permanently.

  • Routinely monitor your Internet presence to ensure that the personal and professional information on your own sites and, to the extent possible, content posted about you by others, is accurate and appropriate. 

  • If you interact with patients on the Internet, maintain appropriate boundaries of the patient-physician relationship in accordance with professional ethical guidelines, just as you would in any other context.

  • Consider separating personal and professional content online. 

  • When you see content posted by colleagues that appears unprofessional, bring it to the attention of the poster so that he or she can remove it and/or take other appropriate actions. If the behavior significantly violates professional norms and the individual does not take appropriate action to resolve the situation, report the matter to appropriate authorities. 

  • Recognize that actions online and content posted may negatively affect your reputation among patients and colleagues, may have consequences for your medical career, and can undermine public trust in the medical profession.