AMA adopts new social media policy

December 9, 2010

The American Medical Association has adopted a new policy in an effort to help physicians maintain a positive online presence and preserve the integrity of the patient-physician relationship.

The American Medical Association (AMA) has adopted a new policy in an effort to help physicians maintain a positive online presence and preserve the integrity of the patient-physician relationship.

"Using social media can help physicians create a professional presence online, express their personal views, and foster relationships, but it can also create new challenges for the patient-physician relationship," said Mary Anne McCaffree, MD, an AMA board member. "The AMA's new policy outlines a number of considerations physicians should weigh when building or maintaining a presence online."

The new policy, adopted in November at the organization's semi-annual policy-making meeting in San Diego, encourages physicians to:

use privacy settings to safeguard personal information and content to the fullest extent possible on social networking sites;

routinely monitor their own Internet presence to ensure that the personal and professional information on their own sites-and content posted about them by others-is accurate and appropriate;

maintain appropriate boundaries of the patient-physician relationship when interacting with patients online and ensure patient privacy and confidentiality is maintained;

consider separating personal and professional content online; and

recognize that actions online and content posted can negatively affect their reputations among patients and colleagues and may even have consequences for their medical careers.